So as I’ve already shared, I struggle with how much is too much to have, to spend, etc. I have great appreciation for the many blessings God has given to us and I want to honor Him with what we have and teach Noah to do the same, to have a giving attitude that flows from a loving, caring, tender heart.
Sometimes I get a glimpse into the heart of my child and I smile with great joy and am filled with delight to see him responding to others in need. A few weeks ago, we were in Atlanta visiting my sister. We had just had lunch at Mary Mac’s. Lunch was great but we were there during a very busy time and had to park on the street instead of in their parking lot so we were exposed to some folks who were not simple patrons like ourselves.
As Noah and I stepped up onto the sidewalk readying ourselves to get into my sister’s SUV, I heard and saw a man walking quickly toward us. He was speaking loudly and making no sense. He was looking directly at me. I admit, I felt terrible panic, mainly because Noah was right there with me. The thought I had was, “he is going to grab my purse (and run away with the $6 I have in there 🙂 ).” I jerked the car door open and literally threw Noah inside and slammed the door. Just as the man stepped into reaching distance, still talking incoherently, he turned and walked away from me. I quickly got into the vehicle, my heart pounding and my breathing shallow.
Noah sat wide-eyed offering many questions. My sister explained, “he just wanted your Mom’s money.” She went on to say,” he either had mental problems or drug problems,” neither of which Noah understood and for both he has asked for further explanation. I was quick to tell Noah, “had he asked for money and not frightened me, I would have given him some for food.”
I’ve been advised not to give money to folks on the street because they may spend it on booze or drugs and there was a time that I took that advise. I have since settled on this…if someone tells me they are hungry and I don’t have food to give at that moment, I will give money. If they choose to use it for ill that will be for their own conscience to work out and mine will be clear because I am acting in good faith and attempting to “do unto others as I would want them to do unto me.” I have a very deep understanding that I could have been one of those people wandering somewhere in confusion, poverty, or despair and to every hand I offer help I do it with genuine love for them and with sincere appreciation for the bounty of blessing in my own life that gives me opportunity to share.
So that night, long after we had spent our day with my sister and driven back home, as I was readying Noah for bed he looked into my eyes and said, “Mama, can we pray for that man that scared us today?” I stopped what I was doing and said, “yes, yes of course we can pray for him and we will do it right now, and for all the others who are suffering Noah, thank you for asking me to do that with you.”
Long after Noah fell asleep, I lay awake thinking about his heart. He believes in the power of prayer. He also cared for that man who the only thing we had seen of him frightened us and brought to our attention something wasn’t right with him. How precious that Noah’s care is extended to those who are unknown to him, but who he knows is out there somewhere in need.
Since that time, we have seen a man on two different occasions, frail and unkempt, sitting with a sign that says, “hungry, need food.” The first time, Noah almost broke his neck careening it around to see the man as we continued to walk by. He tugged on my arm and I quietly asked if he wanted to give money to the man.” He said, “yes,” so I gave him some and he went and handed it to him and came back alongside me.
The next time we saw him only a few days later, I walked by and didn’t say anything and Noah said, “Mom, are you not going to give him anything?” I pulled out some money and Noah ran to him and reached his hand out. As he came back he had a spring in his step so I asked, “did he say anything to you Noah? and he replied, “yes, he said, thanks Smalley!” Noah just loved that…”Smalley!”
A few months back as I was tucking him into bed, Noah asked me to pray for a little boy he had met at the park who told him that his daddy was in prison. We did that, and for the little boy’s dad and family. After our last visit to the nursing home to visit Erick’s dad, he asked if we could pray for all of those people who live with Papaw. I can’t even describe what happens in my heart when I hear my little one demonstrating compassion. It encourages me when I’m up against the more difficult moments of parenting this little wise guy…
Soon after his birthday I was involved in some yard work here at home and ran out of mulch so I called for him to load up in the truck for a quick trip to Wal-Mart to get some more and to hopefully find some stepping stones to complete my project. On the way, he asked if he could look at toys. I said, “not today. We are going to get the things I need to finish this project, and you just got a bunch of stuff for your birthday.” Well, this didn’t agree with him and he began to argue for “an inexpensive toy.” I replied, “not today, Noah.” I went on to say that he has a little problem developing, wanting a little something every time we go to the store and that it doesn’t satisfy him and leads to having too many things that he doesn’t need.
As he sat and pondered over my authoritative speech, he crossed those little arms and looked up and said, “well, I do have a problem, but you have one, too. I horde toys, and you horde flowers.” I could hardly believe this. Part of me wanted to fuss at him, but from his perspective…he went on to say, “our yard is perfectly beautiful and you are doing all of this stuff that doesn’t need to be done.” In his mind, my behavior was in contradiction with what I was verbally attempting to teach him.
I did tell him my answer to his request for a toy for the day was “no” and that I agreed our yard overall looks nice, but I was working on an area that has never been touched in all the years we’ve lived here, attempting to justify my expenditures to this little 6 year old know-it-all 🙂 There is no way for me to justify what I was doing as a “need” and he hit right on an issue I so often struggle with…
Don’t we learn more from raising children than we could ever have dreamed of or wanted to learn? Don’t get me wrong, yes, I want to know the areas where I am incongruent, yet it is hard to face, especially when it has to be revealed through the words of a child!
I can honestly say, my children have challenged and inspired me to depths I never would have known existed if not for my journey with them, and for their presence in my life I am infinitely grateful! I hope this made you smile as it does me to have the gift and wonder of a child to live with, to learn from, and to love.