I post these blogs whenever I happen upon an act of kindness–especially if it has some unique twist. Sometimes they’re people I know, and sometimes just strangers whose kindness I witness. These are the people that represent Jesus to the rest of us, and they think no one’s looking.
Seeing beggars downtown is certainly nothing new. But Shara believed in giving when asked, so she plunked a wad of money in the hand of the first person who asked. We walked for several blocks, and as we neared the loop, we saw saxophone players with open cases, handicapped veterans holding out McDonald’s cups, and homeless old women who grabbed your arm as you passed. She dropped money into each outstretched container and smiled as if they were the only one asking her for anything that day. By the time we boarded the train, she spent her last two dollars to buy the pass.
The reason Shara and I wandered around downtown in the middle of the day is that she had just lost her job. As a freelancer, I had time to roam around, but Shara had time because she no longer had a job.
What she did have, however, was medical bills. Cancer had wiped her out, and still required therapy, costing money she no longer had. Working as a writer, like me, she had never been rich, and had very little – if anything – to fall back on.
“Why are you giving away all this money?” It took me many blocks to get up the courage to ask. I figured I already knew the answer, knowing Shara, but it just didn’t compute with me. If I were in her position, I’d probably go into crisis mode. Batten down the hatches, close all the doors, nail the wallet shut. But here she was doing the opposite, and not worrying about it.
“I may not have a lot, but I have more than they do. If they’re asking for it, they must need it.”
A firm believer in giving when asked, Shara was known for her generosity. She was generous with her time, generous with her money, generous with her compassion. But it went beyond that. She also had faith. Without Shara saying a word, I learned about giving sacrificially, and I learned about trusting God to do what He said He would.
In the following weeks, I watched the people of our church come around her, without her asking. Family after family came forward, telling their own Shara stories.
“She always babysat when I was in a pinch. She was there for my family.”
“She was my only visitor in the hospital, and then she cooked for my family.”
I guess when you’re generous, you’re right not to worry about running out. Because you have tons of grateful people just waiting for God to prompt them to give back.
That day in Chicago, though, I treated her to sandwiches for dinner. How could I do any less, with an example like that?