This is a story about a police station lobby chair and a blanket. It was a long cold day and I didn’t have any arrangements for a place to sleep for the night. The previous night I slept in the chief’s office of a fire station. When I arrived to Slidell, LA, I decided to spend a little bit of time catching up on some work and munching on a Louisiana delicacy, a PoBoy. It was starting to get dark, so I figured I should try and find a fire station because they have been so helpful in the past. As I went searching for a fire department, all the ones my GPS took me to were closed, so I headed for the police station. They were super helpful and extremely inviting. They told me that they didn’t have any beds for me or even a good lawn for me to camp out on, but they did have an indoor lobby that was open to the public that I could sleep in. It was a long narrow hallway with about ten chairs, two vending machines, and a fake tree.
As I was getting settled in, one of the officers approached me because he was captivated by what we are doing to help end domestic sex trafficking. He offered to take me to Firehouse Subs and get a sandwich. We hopped in his K9 Unit SUV and took off in quest for the best sandwich around! When we got back, we chit-chatted a little longer about the issues of sex trafficking in the town, and his life. I then ate my sub in solitude.
People came in and out of the lobby trying to get a hold of policemen throughout the night. I had curled up in one of the chairs to try and sleep. I was awakened around 3 a.m. by a kind young man who was holding a blanket for me to wrap myself in. I was in awe of this man, so I woke up to listen to his story. I ask him why he was there in the police lobby and he went on to tell me that no more then thirty minutes prior he and his friends were robbed at gun point. They took his cellphone, wallet, and other things they had in their pockets. I realized that he was still in shock so I veered the conversation to other, more uplifting discussions. Later, one of his friends showed up with his father to talk with the policeman as well. Same thing happened—I veered the conversation to keep their minds occupied with other things.
The thing that blew me most away was the fact that this kid who grew up in poverty, moved around a lot which inhibited him to fully establishing himself anywhere, and just got robbed at gun point saw a need and still tended to it. He saw that I was trying to sleep in a chair without the proper accommodations. Even through he had just had some extremely important things taken from him by force, left with nothing, in fear for his life, and still in complete shock he set my needs above his own. A true symbol of giving the shirt off his own back. I was truly humbled by this gentlemen’s ability to serve, to let the needs of those around him far succeed the needs of his own.
Is it harder to give when you have everything, or when you have next to nothing? Don’t think in terms of how much you give, but think in terms of ability to give. Are you more likely to give if you have many things, or if you have very little? I would argue that it is harder for people who have everything to give because to them they have worked extremely hard to achieve those things, which makes it harder to give them away.
Jesus had just met a man who was doing everything right in the eyes of the law, but when Christ told the man to go sell all of his possessions and follow Him, the man walked away sad because he had great wealth and didn't want to get rid of his things. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matt 10:25.
I would argue that money has a hold over our lives more than we have a hold over money. The rich do give more in overall dollars, according to the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, but people at the lower end of the income scale give almost thirty percent more of their income. It is hard to to put the needs of others above your own needs.
As most of you may have guessed by now, I have a lot of time to get lost in my own thoughts. The other day I was pondering the question, “If I could completely remove one quality from human nature to make this world not have any problems, what would that be?” Think about that for a little bit before reading onto my thoughts.
I pondered this for many days, thinking about all sorts of different scenarios, such as, if we took out anger, everyone would be happy. But then I realized that sometime anger is a good thing, like getting mad about the people who sexually abuse children and using that fire to drive our need to fight it, a sense of righteous anger. I then thought about taking out sadness. This would be great because then in theory there would be no pain. But many times we need pain to help us grow stronger. After many days I finally narrowed it down to one thing. If we could extract one quality to make this world a better place it would be, “Selfishness.” There is nothing good that comes from being selfish. I have tried to put selfishness in a good light but have had no luck with why we need that as a part of our lives. If selfishness was gone then we would be constantly putting the needs of those around us before our own without even thinking twice about it.
The only way we do this is by consciously making that decision to put others before ourselves. That is my challenge to you. The man who gave me the blanket set his selfishness aside to bless a complete stranger. It doesn’t take much to help someone in need, don't over think it.