Recently I was walking out of a Papa John’s and approached by a homeless man asking for food. Ironically I had just picked up 2 pizzas so I gave one to him.
He didn’t walk away; instead, he started eating it immediately standing right in front of me as if it was the first meal he had in a week.
Then I asked him how could I “really” help. I asked him twice. He started crying.
Said he lived in a tent with holes, couldn’t find work, didn’t have any family who could help.
I felt his pain. The “Speaker” in me wanted to give him a motivational peptalk but instead I just wanted to connect with him and provide some sort of hope. I told him there was a time when I had been unemployed, had lost a home in foreclosure, filed for bankruptcy, had literally $0.00 dollars in the bank, battled depression, and felt beyond all alone and miserable.
I looked at him and said, “As long as you have hope, there is hope my man. Struggles develop strength”… he looked at me like I was from planet Zorkon. But he smiled. I saw a glimmer of peace in his eyes.
It was a pretty powerful moment for us both and I knew time was limited. I recommended he talk to police officers and visit churches to find community support services who could help him.
By the time our very short conversation was over, he had eaten the entire pizza. I will never know if I made a difference for him, but I am humbled by the irony of having that extra pizza.