An unexpected thing happened when I started reading – tears started pouring down my face. I wasn’t prepared for that. When I choose these books, I don’t really look through them, I just trust that it’s the one I need to read and buy it. This one was the same. No perusing its pages first, just grab and go. I was shocked to feel the emotional connection I have with Chris’s experiences and how he expressed them and how much hope he has given me that even helping ONE person is enough.
I have always had a soft spot in my heat for the homeless. I don’t know the whole reason, but I do know where some of the influence came from. My dad had a nephew that was homeless. He could have lived with his mom, but he chose not to. He came around our house for a few days every year and my dad would bring him in, wash him up, feed him, provide some clean clothes, and he would be gone again. I remember thinking about how bad he smelled, but he seemed like an okay guy. I don’t remember being afraid of him, just uncertain about why anyone would choose to live like that.
The other influence may have been my mom. We had a strained relationship, to say the least. I would go two or three years without any communication. She was single, isolated by her own choosing, and had constant money issues from hoarding tendencies. I was always worried about her being homeless and, I would often think when I saw a homeless woman, “what if that was my mom?” I would sure want someone to help her.
The third influence, which put me way over the edge of having a tender spot, was getting sick and falling into the mentally ill category of bipolar disorder. None of the specialists can tell me what happened, but four years ago, I suddenly had a brain injury that turned my life upside down. As I was getting well, when I would see someone living on the street, I would wonder if they were having the same challenges I was, but they were left untreated and to fend for themselves. I am grateful, so grateful, that I am in a situation with love and support, funds to pay for doctors and medications, and not needing to support myself. If those things suddenly disappeared, I would be the one on the street, in full-blown mania or depression. I would be the one begging in the street for clean socks or a toothbrush or just a bottle of water.
Now, I know many people think that those on the street choose that life because of their own poor choices. They may have a drinking problem, but let me tell you, if I lived on the street, I might spend every penny for alcohol to numb the pain of fear, loneliness, and jealousy of all the people driving by in fancy cars, taking their family out to dinner at a fast food restaurant and not thinking a single thing about me and the help I might need. Just thinking about that makes me want to pick up a drink and I don’t even drink. What a frightening thought! And the tears flow.
I am given so much hope, in just the introduction and first chapter of Doing Good is Simple, that I feel compelled to do something – anything – right here, in my little corner of the world to help those who need it and I’m going to start today. I know that there is a care center not too far away that assists local homeless youth, with quite a few who attend my daughter’s high school. Surely, there are erasers to buy or bottles of water or a t-shirt that is needed. Or maybe some socks.
I know I keep bringing up the socks, but I had my own experience with a homeless young man who was sitting outside of a local convenience store. He wasn’t doing anything or asking for anything, just sitting there in all of his dirty, ripped up clothes. It stopped me in my tracks. I bought a banana and a bottle of water for him and asked if there was one thing he would like, what would it be. His answer? Socks. I looked down and he had none. His shoes were battered and worn and his feet must have looked the same. I told him to sit right there and I would be right back. I spent $5 on socks and returned. He was shocked, but took those socks, moved away from me a bit, and broke open that bag of socks like it was Christmas. And the tears flowed.
Just one small thing. Chris is right – one small thing can help. It might not overhaul a life, but just stopping to talk with that young man to get those socks for him changed his day and probably helped him know that someone cares. I hope I get to meet him in heaven and to find out what happened to him to get there and what happened after I saw him. I didn’t ever see him again and I looked for quite a few days.
Chris quotes the Bible a lot, which is wonderful. In the Book of Mormon, (chapter five, if you are keeping track), Lehi prophecies about the Bible. Nephi talks about these prophecies in verses 18 and 19, “That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed. Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time.” It’s true, they never have, and while much evil has been done from twisting God’s words and laws, so much good has come about from them. So much love and service and compassion. So much help and prayer and tears from those who feel the words of God speak directly to their hearts, just like Chris. I am eager to read more of his words and to do something good, something small and simple, today.