My first night in San Francisco, I was awakened to two people arguing outside. Their voices easily carried into the hotel room, and I wondered who could be angry so early in the morning…
For the remaining vacation, my sisters and I had an amazing experience in San Francisco. At Hotel Bijou, Jeff scurried to remedy the fact that his co-worker gave away our room with two double beds leaving us with a room holding one queen bed for three grown women. He more than compensated with spectacular service, a roll-out full size bed, and a basket full of goodies. When we arrived at the Hilton for night two, Ericka upgraded our standard room to an executive room on the 23rd floor with a spectacular view of the city simply because one of us asked if our room had a window. On our way to pick up the rental car, the bus driver only allowed one of us to pay part of the fare and waved the other two of us onto the bus free of charge. The list goes on.
However, San Francisco had another side that permeated every fiber. People lived on the streets…everywhere.
Cue the argument outside my window. Karissa, my avid traveling sister, says that the reviews mentioned the homeless arguing throughout the night. The entire experience tore at my heart strings, and still, I was no Good Samaritan. All the lessons I learned growing up. All the good I had learned to do for others, and here was my chance to practice what I preached. Here was my moment to really shows others Jesus through me.
I blew it. EVERY TIME.
While waiting in line for breakfast, a girl accidentally knocked over a trash can. She singlehandedly toppled not the small trash cans that you have in your kitchen, but the huge ones – the ones that you take to the curb for the trash guys. She then proceeded to pick up the trash can and the massive amounts of disgustingness that also spilled into the streets as a result. She did much more than most would have done. She did much more than I would have done.
Everything in me said to go help her: “In as much as you have done it unto the least of these My brothers, you have done it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:40). “That’s Me over there Brittany. Help Me.” “You never know when you are entertaining angels.”
And I sat and watched. I was not touching trash.
I wanted her to walk away. She had done her part. She had picked up the trash can. She was free to go. No one would bother her about the stuff that fell out, but she kept picking up. Someone even had the nerve to call security on her, as if knocking over a trash can was some sort of crime.
Immediately, I think of times when I drop something or knock something over at establishments, and the workers are quick to say, “don’t worry about it.” “I’ll get it.” “Just leave it. We will take care of it.” I think all of the people who stop to help. No one did that for her. Not even me…
I would love to say I did better after that, but I did not.
A lady stopped us in the hallway of our hotel to tell us how beautiful we were, held a conversation about her life, and inquired about ours. She was delightful. She asked us where we were going to eat. She suggested some place she thought we would love. She stated several times that she would go herself except that she was no longer allowed to drive.
I should have asked her to come with us. Instead, I remembered all the episodes of Law & Order, Cold Case, Elementary…They used delightful older ladies to kill people so I offered her nothing, not even a to-go plate. After all San Francisco had done for me, I took it all, and gave nothing back.
The final straw was the man who asked for spare change on my way in from shopping. I did not want to take the time to get it out of the wallet that I was holding IN MY HAND. I thought I may miss the light.
My baby sister gave him every thing she had. She said, “he only asked for change. You never know their situation, what brought them to this.” I should have run back and given him all that I had. I did not. I did not even turn around to see if he was still there. It was then that guilt began to overwhelm me, but before the guilt could settle in, God stopped me.
Just do better.
The post, “you can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you (John Wooden),” replayed over and over in my mind. How many times did I ignore the person on the corner or in front of the store? How many times had I made excuses to myself about why I could not give to strangers? They will use the money for drugs or alcohol. They will harm me when I take my purse out. This entire scenario is a setup.
How many times had I kicked myself for not entertaining angels? As though only angels should receive the benefits of kindness or spare change. Everyone deserves a perfect day, a perfect vacation, a perfect glance at who God really is – whether giving or receiving.
So I challenge you much the way I challenged myself to “do better.”
Sometimes being a good person (whatever that means) is not enough. Yes, the receiving end of unexpected blessings certainly has its highlights.
Yet, to give, to give of yourself to your spouse, to your children, to your friends, to complete strangers…
To offer your love, your time, your food, or your money to someone who can never return the favor…
Is to transform your life from ordinary to extraordinary.
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