I Am Raising Exceptional Children

A few days ago, my daughters and I were passing by a homeless man at an intersection not far from our home in Nashville. He was dirty and unkempt, I am certain from hours standing in the heat on the corner. He also seemed a little off–you know, not quite playing with a full deck… which isn’t all that unusual with homeless people.

We all three watched as people ignored him, shooed him away from their cars. Quite frankly, I was getting ready to do the same. Having worked on “crackhead row” in Chicago (off Cicero and 47th), I had become hardened to so many folks begging at the light–especially when I had experienced one becoming belligerent when I offered him my untouched, just bought lunch. (He wanted  money instead.) I was ready to move on like everyone else at the light, when my children intervened.

One of the girls said, “I wish we had some food to give him.” The other said, “Or some money.”

I felt like a complete jerk as I actually looked at the man full on. He had a smile on his face, asking for help in the most unassuming way–not angry, not ashamed, not aggressive,  not even downtrodden. Just standing there fully expecting someone to eventually show kindness. Waiting on God to take care of him just like a sparrow. I choked up.

“Quick! Hand me the money in my purse!” I demanded. One of my kids handed me a wad of cash. I had about $14. I started to hand him the singles (I needed to put gas in the car), but dropped them in favor of the ten. When I beckoned him over, he limp-walked to the car almost falling over.

That made me feel like a real asshole.

As I handed him the money, he was careful not to touch my hand. He opened his mouth to say, “Thank you”, but the words would not form–his lips moved, but no sound came. I realized with tears in my eyes that he could not talk. He smiled even bigger, pointed to me, pointed to the sky, and finally pointed at his heart. I understood in my own heart what his vocal chords could not produce: God sent me to help him, and he was grateful.

Even more humbling, we all watched amazed as he went back to the guard rail, knelt down, and began to pray. As the light changed and we made our turn, I glanced at my girls. One still watched him as he faded into the distance; the other wiped tears from her eyes. 

“He couldn’t talk, could he?” The youngest asked thoughtfully. 

“No,” I croaked, choking back tears. “But that didn’t keep him from praying or saying ‘Thank you’.”

I started off this post in a completely different fashion. In fact, I had no intention of telling this story at all. I had wanted to express to you how awesome of a parent I am, how great my kids are–never trying to get this deep or be that honest in this post. Even still, I think that I did exactly what I had intended to do, which was to express to you:

I am raising exceptional children.

Not because they are smart, funny, kind, polite, well behaved, helpful, confident, and self directed (and they are all that and then some). Nor are they exceptional because of me. I am really just hitting an even groove as a person–let alone as a parent! My failed attempts at guidance still outweigh my successful ones.

No, they are exceptional because they already have the mind of Christ, where compassion is their default status. If everyone lived this way, the world would be a much better place.

I pray that they are always exceptionally connected to othets in compassion and grace.

13 Comments

    1. Absolutely! I believe that God’s love calls us back to that love and innocence–to give people a chance. The scripture says that we are to give what we have decided in our own heart, neither reluctantly or out of compulsion because God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians somewhere, lol). There are times when God is moving on us to do something for someone–and let’s face it: we don’t want to do it so we act like we don’t hear His voice. I am so glad God spoke to me through my daughters.

  1. Reblogged this on Explore America with Kids and commented:
    I too struggle with whether or not to give money to the homeless people on the corners. I work on a trauma unit as a RN, which means I, like you, have seen the criminals, the drug addicts, the “crazies”. It has made my heart a bit harder, I have to admit, but I still want to volunteer at the shelters when I can, and I hope to help in that way.

  2. BTW, I didn’t see the “L” on the title pic and I thought it said, “Unto the East of these”. I was confused for a split second:p LOL

  3. So beautiful (with tears in my eyes)! I have been guilty of passing right by myself and moments like these remind us to not harden our hearts. Thank you for sharing this lovely story!

  4. Admirable reaction from you and your children. Unfortunately while there are genuine beggars nowadays there are also some that pretend to be beggars in order to make money at the expenses of human goodness. In London where I live there are rich beggars. One of them was found out a few months ago that he took the train from Manchester each day day to come to London to beg which is very expensive. Moreover he would accept money from bank cards by using a small machine like those in shops or supermarkets. Begging can be very lucrative that is why beggars often fight for the best places. This said there are genuine ones but as for charities it’s difficult to sort the genuine ones from the bad ones. The beggar to whom you donated could have been dumb or could have pretended to be dumb. For instance in London I’ve seen beggars walking in distorted manner like semi paralytic people when begging in high streets and then walking normally when not begging. However as the proverb say: “Give and don’t look to whom you give to”. So your action was admirable. All this said I live in the UK where we still have benefits for all that is why I never give to beggars. But I would probably give to them if I where in countries like India or the USA where the poor are not protected.

    1. Thank you for the response. I think you missed the point of the text. It is not about homelessness–it is about my daughters having a compassionate heart.

      One of the tenets of my faith is having a mind like Christ–which is that when the spirit moves on your heart to act compassionately, you do so. I see homeless beggars every day; every where I have lived they have been aplenty. I also know the difference between a scammer and a real homeless person. But every once in a while, God moves on our hearts to help those who genuinely need it. Those who are open to that still small voice always know the difference.

      I am proud of my girls because they listened to the heart of God when I did not.

      1. Yes I got that about your girls being compassionate. My point though was about recognizing that there are scams and genuine ones and you seem to fully understand the difference This said lot of people do not only intuitively recognize who the genuine beggars are but worse still which charities are good or just a big businesses, ending by giving lots of money to the wrong ones, or rather to the ones that have already a lot of money for paying PR and advertising.

  5. Kisha, this was truly an amazing story, I too, like you have become harden when in the cities, from the ones that have fake casts on their arms at beaches and I remember my dad put his hand on his stick ready in case of malice, to the ones that use this as a job because they made more by doing this than a regular job to find them in local pubs, well dressed and feed bragging about their hull for the day, that was Santa Monica, Ca. Yet, there are those that are simply down on their luck and need a helping hand.

  6. Reblogged this on Dream Big, Dream Often and commented:
    This post brought tears to my eyes. Many do not give to the homeless and use the “they might buy beer or drugs with the money” excuse. I say it is not my job to anticipate their intentions, my job is to give from my soul. When you fail to give, you rob two people of a gift: the receiver and yourself.

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