It all started in the middle of nowhere…. kind of ironic coming from a girl that grew up in a small town in North Dakota, but to this day doesn’t recognize that as the middle of nowhere. We were pulling over somewhere in South Dakota - nearer to Nebraska than North Dakota - so that I could go to the bathroom. Another irony. I never have to stop for the restroom on road trips. I’m only 35. No kids. Teacher. I have a bladder as good as the largest balloon you’ve seen, and yet, two weeks ago, I thought I was going to burst and quickly became a young girl begging, “Daddy, please, please find a bathroom for me soon!” as if he could just place a gas station up ahead in the middle of nowhere out of sheer will.
Within a few miles, however, there it was. A gas station. In the middle of nowhere.
I saw it right away as we pulled into the parking lot. A shopping cart. We all know the kind. It was full. Dirty. Overflowing. Resting along the window of the little gas station. My mind wondered, “Seriously? Out here? In the middle of nowhere?” as we pulled up and parked right in front of the weary shopping cart.
As soon as I hopped out of the car and headed for the door, I saw him. His head bowed into one hand, under his fur-lined hood. The dark, long down jacket hung over his body. The last couple of bites of a slice of pizza occupied his other hand. His boots, untied, looked like they wanted to cry. I hustled into the bathroom still wondering what the story of the man with the shopping cart might be.
Confession time: I have a slight fear when it comes to homeless people. Don’t get me wrong, I also have a strong desire to love them. My efforts, though, over time, have been everything from meek to courageous, and the consequences have also ranged from simple to scary. This puts me in a personal conundrum - do I help? How do I help? Do I say anything? What do I say? Will I be rejected? Probably the most crucial question, the truth of my fear, sneaks in at the end of the list. While I don’t want it to be about me, I have experienced the rejection, and at times it has been humiliating, or scary, or disappointing. I am human. Those are feelings I don’t welcome with open arms, even though I know how much they have grown me.
Oh, the way this story ends was a beautiful moment for me. To read the rest of this post, head over to Be, mama. be. where I am guest posting for my sweet friend, Cara, today.