Personal Narrative- Joy in Helping the Homeless
America's strong heritage with regard to allowing its citizens the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" has brought about a mindset that each person should work for his own benefit and personal pleasure. While there is nothing wrong with happiness and enjoying oneself, this route to seeking out joy will usually leave people empty-handed. A recent experience with a homeless man strengthened my belief that true, satisfying happiness comes not from working for one's own benefit but from serving others.
About a week ago, I went to Capital City Mall with two friends to seek out a more enjoyable meal than I would find in State University’s cafeteria. As we approached the entrance to the mall, I saw a presumably homeless man standing near the door. Though I heard his request for spare change, I passed him by without much thought. I had only a few pennies and, having grown up only an hour from a large metropolitan area, I had been downtown enough times to know it's often unwise to even make eye contact with those begging for spare change. Normally, that would have been the end of the story and I would have had nothing else about which to write. But, something inside was nagging at me…I couldn't get the man off my mind. As I ate my meal from Panda Express, I found that there was more food than I could eat. I determined that the homeless man could make more use of the leftovers than the garbage can would. As I exited the mall, I approached the man and told him I couldn't give him any change, but I had some food for him. With shaky hands, possibly due to a handicap or the brisk, wintry air, he gratefully pulled out a Wal-Mart bag for me to put the food in. I slid my leftovers into the bag and said goodbye to the man, walking away with a smile and an overwhelming sense of joy.
Before encountering this homeless man, I had always been taught and had always believed that I should be concerned with the needs of others at least as much as with my own. Perhaps the strongest factor influencing this belief was the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan. As a Jewish man is traveling down the road, some thieves mug him and "leav[e] him half dead" (Luke 10:30). A few religious but arrogant men approach the man as they walk down the road but quickly pass on the other side of the road. Finally, a Samaritan man, a member of a race that hates Jews, stops to help the injured man, takes him to an inn and pays the innkeeper to care for the man until he heals. After telling this story, Jesus instructs, "You go, and do likewise" (Luke 10:37). Just as the Samaritan man assisted his social enemy, a Jewish man, when he needed care, I learned that I should act likewise and help and care for those who aren't necessarily liked by others. Whether these people are simply shy and lonely or homeless outcasts like the man I recently encountered, I knew I was to look for ways to serve them.
Looking back over the...