Everybody knows walking the city streets and riding buses or subways or metro trains is risky. In our desperate world, people everywhere are murdered, harassed, attacked, or robbed, during everyday activities such as going to work, home, and the grocery store! Who wants to risk their mortal life having to ride or walk when they own the luxury of a car?
One day, while staying with my brother and his wife, I had the opportunity to risk my life in Greater Dallas by walking to the grocery store, roughly a mile, two major intersections and two bus stops away from their apartment.
While on my walk I was reciting my “Hail Mary’s” and clenching my shopping bag as tight to my shoulder as I could, suspicious of every car that slowed and every individual that passed on the sidewalk.
A few meters after a young man about my age had passed, he called out to me in a smooth African accent to ask if I lived around the area. Nervously I replied, “Uh, no, I live north…. Very north.” -which was the truth, I am living in Amarillo at this time. He very politely started making conversation until I told him I was married, and then he politely went back on his way. This made me smile, as I continued my trek to the grocery store.
The intersection was quite frightening as I thought about how my mom used to say that ANYBODY could stop their car and grab you off a main drag.
I passed the crowd of people waiting for the bus, and entered the parking lot to the grocery store. Quickly I picked up what I needed, paid and left. On my way home, the crowd waiting on the bus had multiplied, and the number of dots crossing the streets randomly up and down Adelia had also increased in number. I suppose the time of day was drawing people to and from work as shifts at local eateries and stores turned over.
Halfway back, still gripping my bag close and walking briskly, a gentle thought swept over me. As I watched the dots of people running back and forth across four lanes of traffic, God softly said, “Dana, I love everybody. The bad people too.”
As I entered the apartment, a new appreciation grew in me for the carless population. All of those little dots that crossed the streets want left alone just as much as I did. They don’t want bugged, they don’t want robbed, they don’t want messed with…. And they can’t help that they don’t have the money to buy/repair/put gas in a car. It’s not their fault circumstances are the way they are– and it’s not that they’re bad people.
Misconceptions are amazing. Just because somebody lives in district A or B, looks the way they do, or has a certain Fate in their life that keeps them from being able to get “ahead” of where they are, doesn’t mean they aren’t like any other “normal” human being on earth. This homeless person or that homeless person isn’t homeless because they’re a convicted criminal. It’s because they didn’t help themselves get to a better place in life. It’s because he/she fell down on their luck with money; were evicted from their home; kicked out of their home; can’t get a job because of criminal history NOT related to murder, sexual assault; are suffering from PTSD due to Military trauma; struggling with alcoholism… it’s not because they’re “bad” and “evil” people.
And it never occurred to me before that shopping trip just how “blind” I am to reality.
I want to be able to reach out to people on their level. And sometimes, that means doing things that scare the living daylights out of me. Now, I’m not stupid– while I was on this walk back home, four guys walking together on the other side of the road started giving me catcalls in Spanish. Obviously my fears of people in district B come with some justification- unlike the young man from Africa, stopping and talking to them would have been a really dumb idea.
Sitting outside of the medical district today, the song “Give Me Your Eyes” started playing on Air 1, and for some reason, the lyrics really hit home for the first time.
I want to be able to see with God’s eyes. I want to understand where people are at.
Walking in “their shoes” on a hot afternoon in August, in Greater Dallas, for the first time I was able to “see” with God’s eyes. And it was an experience I would never trade for the world.