I rolled out of bed on that warm Saturday morning and into a haze of frustration, hopelessness and stress. I was carrying worries that most of us know: job, money, other stuff.
It was 7am and I was heading into a full day of outreach with a team we were hosting through our Outreach Department. I didn’t feel like I had much to give. The familiar haze of worry left me in a state of spiritual poverty.
“You can do this,” I told my tired reflection as I looked in the mirror.
The team and I went out into the neighborhood to hand out water. We live in the Tenderloin, where a lot of people are homeless and and many are living in poverty.
We meet physical needs when we can, but we’re always hoping to build relationships. Mother Theresa said the greatest poverty is loneliness, and we try to conquer that by inviting people into community centered around Jesus.
We walked up to a group sitting against a fence. I sat down with them and started talking to one of the men. He told me his name was Shing. After a couple of minutes of small talk, he pulled away the blanket that had been covering his legs and showed me he was missing some toes.
Shing told me he relied on others to carry him to the bathroom and, if nobody was around, he would decline any food or water offered to him because he was afraid he wouldn’t make it to a bathroom. He couldn’t use resources in the neighborhood because he couldn’t stand in line for long, like most of them required.
Meeting Shing there on the sidewalk snapped me out of my haze and my focus went from my worries to helping Shing get a wheelchair. I went home and set up an online fundraiser. The money came in within a day.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Sometimes abundance looks like friends who will carry you when you can’t walk alone.
Sometimes abundance looks like sitting next to a stranger and sharing your story. Sometimes it looks like listening.
Abundance has a way of sneaking in, in the midst of poverty. It’s there, if only we look for it.
When I delivered the wheelchair to Shing the following week, I realized sometimes abundance simply looks like the smile of a new friend.