A few short years ago my husband and I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for our anniversary. We visited Lower Broadway, which is known as the “Honky Tonk Highway.” You could hear music up and down “music row” from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. the next morning. It was fun checking out the saloons with the different variety of music luring you in.
While we were there, we also checked out the statues of famous people and historic places. I got a kick out of the statue of Little Jimmy Dickens. We were literally the same height which I love!
One night, we were walking in downtown Nashville going to The Ryman Auditorium, which used to house the original Grand Ole Opry House. As we rounded the corner, we encountered an older lady in tattered clothing wearing a hat and oversized coat with matted hair. She saw us eyeing another statue and talking of how we were going to take turns being in the pictures since we didn’t have anything to prop our phone up with. The “selfie” wouldn’t be sufficient since we couldn’t get ourselves and all of the statue in the camera frame. The lady walked up to us and offered to take our picture together with the statue. My husband was reluctant, but I thought she was kind to offer so I held out my phone as I thanked her. She smiled softly, snapped the picture of us, and returned my phone. We small talked for a few minutes before she started to tell me her story. She was homeless and used to live in the nearby parking garage. As she continued on, she spoke of the horrible living conditions now on the streets of Nashville after the city officials ran her and several other homeless people out of the parking garage. They were not even able to use the bathroom in there any longer. As she talked, my heart truly went out to this woman and others like her. I imagine not too many tourists stopped to have a conversation with her like we did. But, there was something about her blue eyes that kept me standing right there in that spot listening to her story. She never asked for money the entire time we spoke, but I reached into my wallet and pulled out some money to give to her, wishing I had more to offer. She sincerely thanked me for the money, which would enable her to get a hot meal, especially as the temperatures were dropping. As we walked away, my husband seemed somewhat disturbed and a little angry by the homeless scattered along the street. He didn’t like them begging and didn’t understand why I even gave her the time of day. That’s when I let him know that she never, ever asked me for money. I am the one that offered money to her, feeling as if it was the very least I could do. While I could understand his frustration with people loitering in the streets or simply sitting outside of businesses with signs asking for money, this lady was different. In that moment, tears welled up in my eyes thinking of her heartbreaking story. I’m sure as a little girl she didn’t dream of one day becoming a homeless lady roaming the streets of Nashville. Life hasn’t been kind to her, and due to circumstances beyond her control, she found herself living on the streets. What people fail to realize is that things could change in our very own lives, and we could be financially impacted, too. We aren’t to sit in judgement, but, instead, we are to help where we can. What if Jesus showed up in the form of this little old lady with blue eyes that grew dim due to the way life took a downward spiral when she least expected it?! What if He was testing us to see where our hearts truly were and if we would be the hands and feet as we are called to be?!
Her blue eyes and dingy, matted gray hair haunted me long after we parted ways just outside of the Ryman Auditorium. She was someone’s daughter! MOST IMPORTANTLY, SHE IS THE DAUGHTER OF THE KING OF KINGS! Life has been cruel to her, and I’m sure as much as my heart was breaking for her, she has felt broken, betrayed, and deserted by those who are supposed to love her. Where is her family? Oh Lord, why haven’t they taken her in? My thoughts trailed to this and how we truly won’t ever know what happened to land her where she was on the streets of Nashville. It isn’t our job to know the intricate details, either. It’s our job to show love and kindness to those we meet along our path in life.
It’s been a few years now since this adventure lead us to this gentle soul. My heart has not forgotten her, nor the lesson she taught us. Be kind … and be the hands and feet of Christ when the opportunity presents itself … and it will, when you least expect it.
See the following scripture:
Mark 12:30-31 speaks of loving thy neighbor; Deuteronomy 15:11 speaks of taking care of the poor; 1 John 3:17 is where you will find passages regarding clothing the needy and feeding the hungry in Isaiah 58:10, right along with being hospitable to strangers in Matthew 25:35. We are to care for the captive, the prisoner, and the oppressed, which we are told to do so in Hebrews 13:3 and Matthew 25:36.
Last, but certainly not least, we all need to be reminded of Matthew 25:40, “WHATEVER YOU DID FOR ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF MINE, YOU DID FOR ME.”