So lately I’ve had what we’ll call a poor attitude when it comes to my job. It’s not the work that I mind, I mean I truly do love working with my hands, and truthfully there’s a sense of pride I get from knowing that not only am I providing a necessity for people, but that there aren’t many people who can do what I do. Although I tell people that I’m going to live to be over a hundred the places I work present both short and long term potential health risks, additionally working in the city has definitely calloused me a bit. Which brings me to an encounter I had a few weeks back.
I am around homeless people daily. Now there are some who are just everyday people like you and me who’ve unfortunately fallen on rough times, a large number are either addicts or scam artists. Both of which cause the callouses around my heart to thicken. The location I was working at that day was across the street from a hospital that handles a large number of addicts. As I’m getting ready to go down the hole, over my shoulder I hear, ”can I get some gloves?” It was a cold morning, so without even picking my head up a took off the fresh gloves that I had literally just put on and tossed them to the guy and walked back to the truck to get another pair. As I turn to head back to the manhole, for the first time I see the man I had already judged and dismissed. An older guy, disheveled, and on crutches struggling to put the gloves on. Taking a few steps closer I can see the hospital bracelet still on him and that his skin was reddish/pink. In what was probably less than a second I have a conversation with myself about how much of a terrible person I am. “Hey”, I yell over, “I got you”. Even though I can smell the alcohol on him I can’t help but feel nothing but heartbreak for him. When I took the gloves from him I saw why he was having such an impossible time. His hands were swollen to the point that his skin was shiny and cracking, and his fingers were “stuck” curled. I dropped my hard hat and tools and spent the next 10 minutes getting the gloves on him. But the saddest part was that for the first few minutes of me maneuvering the gloves around his bent hands and talking to him he wouldn’t look at me. He just kept his head down. Not knowing if he was in pain from me trying to get his fingers into the gloves I asked if he was OK. He sheepishly picked his head up, still keeping his eyes to the ground. Again I asked if he was OK. When he finally looked up his eyes got wide, like no one has actually took the time to acknowledge or even make eye contact with him in a long time. In an almost whisper he said, “ thank you I’m ok”.
I could literally feel myself becoming less callous
All the while, people are walking around us not even giving either of us a second look. Instead of getting mad about it, I actually felt sorry for them. When you become so absorbed or hardened to the world around you that you can’t see what’s happening right in front of you that’s not living.
And the callouses got even thinner
In Mathew 25:40 Christ told us:
“…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Sometimes I read about acts of other people. Whether it’s missionaries or the Apostles, and think I wish I could do that or be that brave. The reality is at that moment I did and I was.
Whether you believe it or not, for me, it was an encounter with Christ. I mean I physically felt better after doing something so trivial as helping the guy and talking to him for a few minutes. To the point that it made me WANT to do more. It made me want to tell you about it in the hope that you’ll want to too.
It’s amazing how an act so simple can bring someone joy. God Bless