As my dad waited, I slowly climbed up the gray-painted wooden steps and landed on the porch. There was paint chipping on the porch railings and a hole in the screen door. The number above the door matched the one on the invitation. I was nervous about going inside because it wasn’t a normal looking house. It didn’t even have a front yard to play in.
Wondering if I should go back down the stairs and leave, I hesitantly knocked on the door. When my dad saw me go inside, he drove off. I followed my friend through the hallway and found a handful of classmates standing in the kitchen staring at the birthday cake.
We played a few games in her living room, and then had cake and ice cream while she opened her presents. It was different in her house. No wall to wall carpet and only a few pictures on the walls. There was an upstairs, but we didn’t go see her bedroom. On the backs of the chairs were blankets covered with cat hair. There were ashtrays on the end table. Well, that wasn’t different. There were ashtrays at my house too.
While waiting for my dad to come pick me up, I sat quietly on the couch and listened to the conversations. When I got home, I’m sure I told my parents I had a good time because isn’t that what they expected to hear? I never returned to her house, for she either moved away or she never invited me back.
Lessons Learned From Different Perspectives
This memory appeared out of the blue one day as I was recalling some of my childhood experiences and how they have affected my life journey. Perhaps it was that one visit that led to always looking out for the best interest of others, helping them when needs arise. Maybe this is the beginning of my servant’s heart – the one that gives to others in need.
What keeps us from meeting people in neighborhoods that are unlike our own? Why do we refrain from greeting others when we notice they haven’t washed their clothes lately? Is it hard to love others when they look or dress different? Why can’t we be like the missionaries who go into strange lands and meet people of different cultures or religions? These might be things we could do in our own towns.
Maybe it’s not about answering the questions as much as it actually doing something about the situations we run across. What I know is that any attempt to make a connection with another human being is a good thing. We can be open to learning when we engage in conversations with others.
God provides many opportunities throughout the day. All we need to do is step out of our comfort zone and meet with a stranger. Connect with one, and then add another.
Where Do We Go From Here?
By attending my friend’s birthday party, I was given a taste of how different my life was from the lives of others. I also gained empathy towards people who appeared to have less than me. In other words, I started seeing life from a different perspective.
Was this experience purposely a part of who I have become? I would say, yes. Instead of always being on the outside looking in and wondering how others live, I’ve taken several opportunities to help those in need, face to face. It can be very humbling, yet fulfilling.
I believe that everything we have is a gift from God and is to be used to honor other people. It’s a simple gesture yet we need to keep in mind a few parameters. The main thing is not to enable others. When we give to them, we need to be passing the torch or teaching them how to sustain on their own. Though some homeless will remain that way, they can extend their quality of life by serving others themselves.
We need to be careful how we present ourselves. We want to make sure we are honoring that other person and not making them feel burdened or judged. Serve with a smile and a warm heart, and God will take care of the rest.
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In what ways have you helped others along your life journey? Share in the comments below.