Last night I had a very simple but powerful experience. In the quiet winding down time of the late evening, I was scrolling through Facebook, as I probably do too often, and I saw a post from a local yard sale group. Instead of listing something for sale, a woman was asking for help. She said that she had finally been able to get into an apartment after leaving an abusive situation, but that she had nothing. She was asking for anything that anyone could give her because she had no money until her first paycheck from her newly started job. She specifically mentioned toilet paper and a bath towel.
Now you get to see where I am needing to grow in my humanity. I clicked on her profile picture and looked through her public posts. I realized that I was sizing her up and trying to see if she really could be in need. With that realization, I clicked back to my feed and scrolled on, mentally kicking myself for judging her, but still thinking it wasn’t my business. Then I found myself thinking about all of the times I have donated to any number of things, whether it was a local food drive, donating to Big Ocean Women to help international cottages, or purchasing from an Amazon list for Lifting Hands International or New Wave Feminists for an expectant woman who chose not to have an abortion or their Bottles to the Border efforts, or even if someone in my church or family were in need, that I would be giving what I could, and helping even in my small way. Here was a woman in my community who was reaching out for help in what may have been the only way she knew how. Did it matter that I didn’t know her or have a connection to her besides our humanity? In that moment, my heart was convicted. The Costco trip that had happened that day meant that I had more than enough toilet paper to share. I have plenty of bath towels without even disturbing matching sets. So I messaged her through Facebook to ask where I could drop some things off to her. She responded with an address and phone number saying she would come out to the street if I called her. I grabbed a towel, a package of toilet paper, and some paper towels and told my family I would be right back.
I haven’t lived in my current community very long. There are still places I have never been. When I had read her address, I had recognized the street name as a street I drive on frequently to get to my own home. I honestly thought I would be there and back in less than 10 minutes, and thinking that she lived so close to me made me even more glad that I was helping in even this small way. However, when I got in the car and copied the address into the maps app, I was surprised that this was an address that was about 15 minutes away. My small town adjoins another, and apparently the last name of famous missionary settlers is not only the name of the local college, historical site, hotel, and any number of things, but also the name of different streets in both towns. I had told her I was coming though, so I just started driving and following the guidance from the app. It was dark, and some of the places I had to drive through were not well lit. Then there was a road closure I had to figure out how to get around in the unfamiliar area in which I was driving. Thankfully, I am well experienced in letting GPS guidance figure out how to get places when I don’t follow instructions.
Finally, the “You have arrived” declaration came from my phone. I pulled over and called the number I had been given. The woman came out and gratefully accepted my small offering. She shared that she had been staying at the Y and was grateful to be in her own place, but had been distraught that she was unable to even dry herself off if she took a shower. She clasped my hand in sincere thanks, and we both expressed our desire for God to bless the other. She went back through the poorly lit side yard access to her small apartment. I drove through the dark night and found my way home even though the street signs didn’t appear to match up to the map on my phone. I wished I had done more. I was glad I had done something.