Why an open perspective is so important...
Early on in my new found passion to help the homeless, I purposely kept an eye open for people who looked like they were in need. My perspective changed. I used to ignore the faces I would see sitting on the corners, and honestly, I looked down upon them. That is until I had a personal life experience that changed everything for me. In my world, it always takes the drastic wake up calls to make me think differently. It was a near death experience. I had a brain tumor that could have gone either way. I thank God daily that it went in a positive direction.
In this case, I was driving to my office in downtown Phoenix, I saw a woman who was sitting in front of an old strip mall, she was staring off into the sky, the look on her face was a clear mirror of intense grief. The little guy was walking around looking at things on the ground that he found interesting. His clothing looked like a boarding school outfit, it was older, not polished. He looked disheveled. I pulled over, armed with a goodie bag that was intended for a homeless person. Homeless was not the case in this situation.
It is hard to articulate how the encounter went. I can tell you that it was genuine. A real concern on my part which was accepted and received on their part wholly. It never ceases to amaze me how true engagement can change your perspective.
On initial appearance one could make assumptions, most of us commonly do so. Degradation is sadly a common thread in human nature. Myself included. Many assumptions could be made, an alcoholic, drug addict, no education could all be wrangled by first impressions. Agreed?
The real story.
In this case, the lesson for me was in taking the time to understand where another person's coming from my heart broke. My heart changed. What you are looking at in this picture is a grandmother who's world changed one evening by acts of violence out of her control. The little guy looked solemnly into my eyes and told me what happened in his world that led him to this strip mall in a bad part of town. " There were loud bangs and mommy and daddy were gone". What do you say to that? What do you do with that? My son Alex and I made it a point to check on this little guy often. My heart broke and even to this day when I look at this picture I pray for their hearts to heal and safety to be a comfort.
The lesson here is from my perspective is this.
I was wrong for judging anyone. I did not know the backstory. My life has grown in depth by taking the time to learn what that backstory is, to try and understand where people are truly coming from. My heart has changed when I see the destitute lives of people who are without. My understanding of what the Bible truly teaches about humanity and Christianity often misses. We all fall short in this life, we are not by any means perfect and we are not any better regardless of our social status than anyone. Period. The value, the true value in opening in your mind and allowing your perspective to be broadened, is the gift of passionately understanding how this world works. If you have faith it grows, if you have humility, you grow. If you care for others, your heart grows. If you call yourself a "believer" your faith grows, your understanding of love grows.
I will encourage you to stop ( be cautious ) but stop, engage and try to understand where others are coming from. Hear it, feel it and try to see the world from another's eyes. I promise you will thank me.
Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. This is a strong reminder to practice empathy.