Are you a giver? Oh yeah, me too.
Have you given things to your friends? Yeah, me too.
Have you given to the collection plate? Yeah, me too.
Have you given a toy for the toy drive? Yeah, me too.
Have you given to a family who lost their home? Yeah, me too.
Have you given to a person on the corner with a sign? Yeah, me… oh, wait a second.
I used to. Often. So much so that I wrote several stories about it on this blog. I used to give freely to random people who needed help, as a way to teach compassion to my young son.
Then one day, trauma waltzed in. A public place. A man who lived in the streets, with a staring eye, and unkind intentions. My intuition immediately alerted me to the danger. My instinct kept us safe. But the incident stole something from me:
Part of my giving heart.
After that, fear of strangers stormed in and set up shop by building walls around my heart. Fear boarded up its windows and hung a Closed sign on its door.
I remember driving away that day so scared that I was shaking. A mile later, I saw someone standing at a stoplight with a sign for help. For the first time ever, I looked the other way and in that instant, my heart shattered into a zillion pieces.
You see, normally I would’ve been digging for change or a cereal bar to hand out the window…
The more the days passed, the easier it became to not notice the signs so much. Until one afternoon while sitting in the left turning lane, my son and I both saw a person standing right beside our truck with a sign, asking for help.
My son said, “Someone needs help.” My reply was, “We have to be safe.”
Ugh. And, we do right? Have to be safe? But, at what cost? Are we missing out on something really wonderful by being super protected?
It seems like things in life can rock us to the core and essentially who we are can change because of a circumstance we are in. Maybe it’s a divorce, a loss, a trauma, a friendship gone wrong, or even something we think we did to someone. In those moments self protection seems to become the only option.
A few days ago, I opened up my Facebook feed and saw the most beautiful picture of my friend, Courtney. The sun softly lit up her face and she was absolutely glowing in joy.
Her post that followed was about something that happened to her while driving to her doctor appointment that day. By the time I finished reading it, I felt my “closed-to-strangers” heart begin to shift.
In the days since, I’ve found myself looking back at the trauma and I realized that in order to move past it, I had to sit with it and remember why I was so scared that day over a year ago.
Ultimately, I came to see that even though fear served its purpose that day, it’s really not serving me now. In fact, it’s keeping me from being my authentic giving self.
Well, no more of that! I’m giving that story back!
So, on this eve of Christmas, with her permission, I’d love to share her story with you.
The following is by Courtney W. ~
Today as I was driving to my rheumatologist appt. I saw a homeless man and his dog sitting on the side of the road. I immediately turned into the next drive thru even though I was in a time crunch for my appt so they could have food and a small gift card for another meal in the future. A mini toiletry bag & some Larabars (I take hotel toiletries to make baggies & keep in the car) & I went back & approached them. Breezy has traveled with his dog Snoop to 38 states but the first thing he will tell you is he has a severe alcohol problem & he wants help. He wants to go into a rehab program at a local facility if they can get him a bed but they won’t take Snoop. His most precious support in life would be sent to a pound & either possibly adopted away from him or put down. He asked for no money. He ate his burger while Snoop ate his meat & cheese off my fingers so delicately and polite. All the while giving furry love & kisses. We talked about how they are treated by most people & about philosophy & world religions. I was a bit late for my appointment; but it didn’t matter… I changed his day for the better. I listened. And if he gets into the program I will be driving down to pick up & watch Snoop briefly so he can focus on sobriety knowing his best friend is safe and sound waiting for him. They say it “Tis’ the season” but we should treat each other like humans & see the light in one another every day. Christ asked it of me today & I got just as much if not more than this man. We took a picture in hopes of inspiring others to be kind, have compassion, know we are all just trying to make it in this world. When I looked at my phone to take the picture it was 11:11 and I knew my Angels were with me and his with him. Be there for one another. Love one another. Full heart tonight.”
Thank you, Courtney, my dear sweet friend, for being exactly who you are. Your love for others allowed me to start tearing down those boarded up walls and in turn, I was able to flip that Closed sign over to Open, in this girl’s heart.