An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. "Why do you bother?" the old man scofted. "You're not saving enough to make a difference." The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. "Made a difference to that one," he said.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Have you done this before?

I’m a bit embarrassed by this gift. Not at the gift itself but more so that I didn’t do more.  Today as my husband and I were pulling into Costco we noticed a man standing at the entrance to the parking lot. He was scruffy looking and holding a sign I couldn’t read.  I commented to my husband that I had seen him there before and that was the end of our conversation.

By the time we parked, got our cart, toured the isles looking at a bunch of stuff we didn’t need, filling our cart with the essentials such as Kleenex’s, paper towels, trail mix, etc the man asking for money on the side of the road slipped my mind.
I don’t call him homeless because I’m not sure of his situation. He may have a home but needs money for food. He may not need money but still trying to collect it from those passing by. I don’t know his story and at the end of the day does it really matter?

Fast forward through check-out, unloading the cart into the car and now we are pulling out.  We are several cars back and I see the man still standing on the side of the road with his sign.  He is standing on my side so in just a few seconds I have a decision to make.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but if you’re honest with yourself you have probably done the same thing.  I know in the past I have looked the other way.  We justify if we don’t look we don’t see the person.  Today, I’m going to admit as we were approaching the man the thought crossed my mind that it would be easier to turn my head, act like I’m in conversation with my husband and just ignore him.  But this time, I couldn’t do it. 

As we approached I looked the man in the eyes, nodded my head, gave a simple smile and a slight raise of the hand.  I acknowledged him.  And you know what happened? He smiled back and waved. We had made a connection.
Whenever I see someone on the side of the road I often struggle on how to help them and sometimes judge if they really need help. The judgment on my part is wrong, because it doesn’t matter.   Even though I’m embarrassed that I didn’t do more, I feel what I did may have been greater than giving him money. It may have been harder to look him in the eye and smile.  And for some reason I feel like for him maybe that is what he needed today on the side of the road, just a smile from a stranger.

I’m interested to hear if anyone else has struggled with this issue in the past.  I hope the next time you pass a stranger on the side of the road you will at least smile.
Have a blessed week!



  1. Thanks for putting your experience into words. I personally struggle with this. You expressed exactly what I feel. I will take your advice. Keep making a difference, Stephanie. It is a beautiful thing!

    1. Lisa-Thank you for your honesty and sharing. I think before we can make changes, no matter what area of our life, we must first acknowledge where we struggle. Thanks again! Stephanie

  2. That was a very wise and good thing to do. You taught me something.


  3. We learn something new everyday, don't we!. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Often I feel bad I didn't do more. What right do we have to judge someone's circumstance? I think the least we can do is treat them like human beings and smile. :) Thanks for sharing. ... If I have the time, I try to pull into a fast food place and just buy a cheap lunch for them. My Church and I also put together "boxes of love" where we include soap, lotion, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, little sowing kit, clippers, hat, small cans of food, etc...and a note of encouragement. When I see someone who looks in need, I hand them the gift. And that $15 box can be a 1,000 blessings. :) Just some fun ideas!

    1. I love the boxes of love idea! Thanks for sharing! I'll definitely have to make some of those to keep in my car. Continue to keep blessing others, 1 person at a time.