I must admit right here that my "red flags" went up. Who is this boy? Is this some sort of scam? I thought. It's unfortunate how naturally it was for my first thought to be one of judgment, instead of mercy.
But then I looked into his tear-filled eyes and I KNEW. This was NO SCAM - this sweet boy NEEDED HELP. He needed MY help right then.
I knew I wasn't just going to hand over some money to him so I began asking him some questions, and was QUITE astonished, humbled, AMAZED - whatever you want to call it, when he told me his story:
His name Is Breoine and he is 11 years old in the 6th grade. He took 3 BUSES from 60th & Silver Spring Drive to the south side to collect some money that a friend owed him - $26.00 to be exact. It was just enough money to cover both of their dinners plus a soda at Old Country Buffet (his mom's favorite restaurant). You see - it was her birthday and they didn't have enough money to go out to dinner. His aunt was due to arrive at 3:30pm to pick them up, but she could only afford her meal, not theirs.
Unfortunately, his friend didn't show up at the bus stop like he said he was going to. And I don't think he knew how to get to his house and he had no phone to call him. Poor Breoine didn't know what to do.........he told his mom he would be back at 3:30p.m. (it was now 2:30pm) with the money so they could go out to dinner.
He knew he didn't want to return empty handed so he had started walking around in front of Kohl's asking people for a few dollars, hoping to collect enough money and get home by 3:30pm. He told me he really hadn't had much luck collecting anything but a few dollars.
And that's when he ran into ME. Remember - I don't believe in "coincidences" so I KNEW I needed to help him in someway. But how?
Well, I immediately went into action. I knew I needed to get him home safely and very soon, with $26 in his pocket. I knew I wasn't about to put him back on the bus, that's for sure. Plus it was COLD outside.
I asked him if he would feel comfortable coming with me in my car; that I would drive him home and give him the money so he could take his mom out to dinner. I explained how he should never get in the car with a "stranger", but in this case I felt like God, out of His great LOVE for HIM, placed me in his life at the perfect moment to help him. I told him that he could trust me. He agreed probably out of desperation and hopelessness at this point. What other choice did he have, really?
I brought him first to our house to tell Mark what was going on (I must say he was quite surprised at what I came home with this time :)) I also wanted Breoine to meet my family for some reason. I wanted MY KIDS to meet him because I knew there had to be a lesson to be learned for all of us. Naturally, he was afraid of dogs so poor Daisy May had to be put in a separate room. We invited him in to get warm, offered him some food/drink. Mark and the kids chatted with him a bit. What a nice, sweet, innocent boy......trying SO hard to give his momma a good birthday. Doing whatever it took - Wow! - now THAT is LOVE in action!
Megan decided to ride along with us and off we went. Thankfully, he knew his address and my little lady (GPS) directed me to his house without a hitch.
I used our time in the car to get to know Breoine better. There are a total of 5 kids (ages 18, 15, 13, 11, 6 - 3 boys and 2 girls), plus mom living in their house. Dad comes around here and there. Actually he said there are 2 different dad's that come around. Mom use to work at McDonald's and was going to school, but somehow is now disabled in some way and out of work and school; "she's in A LOT of pain", he said. So this year he said no one got ANY Christmas presents because there just wasn't any money. He said in the past they've always gotten shoes, clothes, and maybe a board game.
My biggest concern was whether or not he or his siblings were being neglected or abused in some way. I didn't get that feeling. They weren't going hungry, they had a home to live in.....he obviously loved his mom and his siblings a lot. Good, I thought.
BUT then I asked him if they had enough clothes. He said what he had on was all he owned because his cousin had been stealing his clothes and now there was no money to buy him anymore. Oh my! I thought as my heart was breaking. And all along there was Megan in the back seat saying nothing, just listening. What in the world is SHE thinking as she hears his story?
He didn't want me to drop him off at his house because he figured his mom would be upset with him getting a ride from a complete stranger (good idea!) So I pulled into a McDonald's parking lot within walking and viewing distance from his house and let him out.
Before he shut the door, Megan wrote on a small piece of paper my cell phone number. I told him to tuck it away in a safe place, and that if he ever needed anything, or was ever scared or in trouble, that he could call me anytime.
He smiled and I noticed something different in his eyes when he said "Thank You." And then he shut the door. We watched him walk to his house, and just before entering his door, he turned around and waved at us.
Phew! Our drive home was quiet. I was trying to process it all. It was like I had been in a dream. Did this really happen? I wondered. What are we suppose to do with this information now?
As usual with me, I began thinking about the lesson that was suppose to be learned through all of this, for us, for him. Possibly we ALL needed to learn something from what happened yesterday afternoon.
What I do KNOW FOR SURE is that I learned (and hopefully my kids, too):
- How strong LOVE is. How LOVE can motivate you to do anything. It can give you Strength when you have none. LOVE gives you Hope.
- How far and deep a son's love is for his mother. Any child for that matter.
- To be grateful for everything we have. To be thankful to simply have another outfit to change into.
- HOW MUCH our kids got for Christmas this year, and this family got nothing.
- When in doubt, always go with your "gut".
- If you feel Peace, then that's a good sign.
- You should always try to believe the best in people.
- Sometimes you just need to take that "extra step" to help someone out, even if it is out of your comfort zone.
- Prejudice serves no purpose.
- I know that I can't save the world, but that I can sure do my part.
I feel humbled to have been chosen to help him; that I was given the opportunity to extend him grace and mercy because I know that is what I would've wanted if I were HIM.
I am so grateful that I didn't pass him by out of busyness or judgment.
I feel so thankful that we learned, as a family, in a very tangible way about how much we are blessed.
Oh, we have some ideas in the "works" for the Walker family. On ways we can pass along LOVE to their family and to show Christ's LOVE to them even more. To BLESS them, as we have been BLESSED. Isn't that what Life is all about?
May you also be humbled by this story as I have. May you also learn something from his story that will change your life in some way. May you view LOVE in a whole different way, possibly from the view of a young boy who was simply trying to give his mom a great birthday, and the great lengths he was willing to go through to make that happen: to make his mom feel special on her day. Wow!
And to simple see, as I have, that IT IS ALL ABOUT LOVE.