Elijah is very kind-hearted. Sometimes, he can be pretty mean (particularly to his parents!) but in the big picture, this little boy has a lot of compassion in his heart. Today, God used this little boy to truly touch my heart. Here's our story:
We had a lot of little errands to do today and Elijah has been sick. I knew he wasn't going to be super thrilled with the idea of sitting in the car for so long so I tried to keep things fun...singing and looking for interesting things outside that we could talk about. We were headed out of town to Boone and we saw a house being built. Elijah started talking about it as soon as he saw it...the machines, the little bit of the frame that was up, the men with hammers, etc. I explained that it was going to probably take a little while to get the whole house up. Elijah's face fell a bit when he thought about that but suddenly he perked up.
"I think that MAN found a house, Mommy!"
"You know, that man from by Walmart..."
Now, you need some background about the man, I suppose! It was late November, possibly early December, this past year. Elijah and I were out shopping and it was bitterly cold. There was a homeless man standing near Walmart's entrance, with a simple cardboard sign that said "I would appreciate any help...God bless". I had seen this man many times, and one or two winters ago, I had bought him lunch once. There is something about this man that always tugs at my own heart. I don't know his "story", and I see other homeless people around from time to time. But this particular man...I'm not sure what it is. When I see him, I start thinking more about those who are less fortunate. This particular day was the first time Elijah had seen him. As we pulled into Walmart's parking lot, Elijah wanted to know why the man was standing in the cold and what did his sign say. I tried to explain it, but poor Elijah didn't quite grasp how someone wouldn't and couldn't have a house to live in. Wouldn't he be cold? Well, yes, he would. Where does he keep his food? He doesn't have food to keep, or a refrigerator to keep it in. We kept talking while we were shopping at Walmart and I decided this was a good opportunity to teach Elijah a little about compassion and kindness to others.
We left Walmart and I drove towards Dairy Queen (the ONLY fast food place on this end of town!).
"Mommy, why are were here? We ate lunch already!"
"I know, Eli. We're going to buy that man some lunch, okay?"
"But mommy, where will he keep his food?"
"Eli, he can't keep it anywhere but he can eat it. That's why I'm going to buy him something that he doesn't have to put in the fridge."
"I'll bet he's really hungry, mommy!"
Yes, I thought he might be, too. And cold. I despise being cold, and I can't imagine being cold all the time. After we got through the drive thru, I parked the car and talked to Eli for a moment:
"Eli, you know Jesus wants us to show kindness to everyone, including people who don't have as much as we do. We can't help everyone, and I can't buy this man lunch every time I see him, but we can do it today. And that hat and gloves from Walmart? We're going to give those to him, too, because he doesn't have a hat or gloves on and it's very cold outside. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Yes. That man has no house, we have a house. He doesn't have a hat or mittens like I do, so we are going to give him some. And he's hungry, so you bought him lunch just like you bought ME lunch when I was hungry!'
"Yes, and why are we going to do this for him, besides that he's cold and hungry?"
"Because Jesus wants us to be kind to other people."
Excellent...he understood what I needed him to. So we drove up and I jumped out of the car. The man and I exchanged a short conversation and I told him that my little boy and I wanted to help him a little. He looked down at me, eyes a little tear-filled, and said "thank you so much. God bless you and your family!" I simply said "I'll pray that God blesses you as well." Elijah sat in the car and waved, smiling so sweetly.
Eli and I talked about that man for a little more that day, and then we didn't. Every time we went to Walmart after that, we didn't see him. Eli would ask me where he was and I said I didn't know...that it was now VERY cold and perhaps he was in a shelter or something. We haven't seen that man another time, but every time Eli asked me about him, it prompted me to think, and pray that he was okay.
SO, back to today. Elijah said "You know, that man from by Walmart!"
I was shocked that he remembered him now and said "The homeless man, Eli?"
"YES! The man who we gave lunch and the hat and gloves to. Mommy, I think he's building that new house!"
I smiled. I don't know if that is true but I certainly wasn't going to destroy Eli's vision for this man. And it really made me think for a moment. My little boy never stops thinking about this man...the man who had so much less than we did. The man that we gave something very small to, in hopes of helping him just a little. That man had a big impact on Eli's life, because Eli thinks about him even now...months later. Eli remembers him, and even has a vision that the man is now in a better place in his life.
My little boy was thinking about this while I was busy wallowing in an ocean of self-pity today. In all reality, my problems are small compared to what some other people must deal with. My problems are real, and the hurt is real, but do I need to allow that to bring me down? Nah. So I decided I wouldn't let that happen today.
Thanks, little buddy...and thank you, God, for using my little buddy to get through to my heart today.