I did a terrible thing a couple of days ago. As my daughter and I pulled out of the Target parking lot we saw a woman holding a sign. My daughter- whose reading skills continue to amaze me- saw that her sign said she had a newborn baby at home. I took a sip of my diet soda and kept driving, attempting to avoid eye contact as we passed her. I justified this by telling my daughter that I didn't have any cash on me, and that we had no way of knowing what this woman's situation really was.
Every word I spoke to her felt wrong to me, sending pangs of guilt to my core.
We should always give when we can, and cheerfully.
We should never turn a blind eye.
I expect more of myself than that and I want to lead by example for my daughter.
I was already on the highway when I turned around- both my conversation and my driving. I told my daughter that I should have asked what I could do for her, be it diapers or formula, and helped her. I think being humble enough to admit my mistakes is an important way of leading by example as well.
When we returned, the woman was gone.
I wish I'd stopped when I had the chance.
I was reminded of something very important in that moment- the importance of living a life where I try to do the right thing rather than justifying doing the wrong thing.
I have been richly blessed in my life- my husband has a job that allows me to stay home, I have two healthy and happy children, I live in a nice home in a safe neighborhood, there is gas in my car and food in my fridge.
There was a time when I was in an abusive marriage.
There was a time when my parents had to pay for my divorce and custody battle.
There was a time when my boyfriend (now husband) bought me a Christmas tree and presents for my daughter because I had so little as a struggling single parent.
There was a time when every time I heard a big truck near my apartment at night I'd run to the window to see if they were repossessing my car.
There was a short time when I was on food stamps because I had lost my job.
There was a time when a bag of hand-me-down Winter clothes for my daughter almost made me cry because I had been so worried about how I would provide them for her.
I made it through those situations by the grace of God and the kindness of others.
I should have offered help to that woman.
I should have paid it forward.
I will next time- and the memory of how I felt when I drove away will stick with me.
Do the right things in life. Love your neighbor. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
We all need a little help sometimes.
Even when the help we need is a reminder to do the right thing.