Here’s what happened to me this morning.
I pull out of my driveway, start driving down my street to make my first and only right turn of the trip, I’m about 1.5 miles away from work. I see a woman, bundled up from head to toe because the air is cold and sharp. She looked like a human hot dog wrapped in a sleeping bag.
She was coming from around the corner of the street by the stop sign and I could immediately tell she was in trouble. She sticks out her thumb, not because she liked my sweet car, but because she obviously needed a ride… somewhere.
I don’t usually pick up hitchhikers because, well you know, they can be scary. But she seems harmless and it was really cold so I decided to break from my tradition of driving quickly past while feeling bad and stopped to ask what was wrong.
“Can you give me a ride?” She asked through panic and tears. As I was about to respond and try to figure out what was going on she beat me to it.
“I really need a cigarette.” Panic was beginning to take this woman over.
A cigarette? I thought. Really?
I ask her if she had money for a cigarette because I wasn’t going to be able to buy her one. I did have a ten dollar bill in my pocket, but I’m not in the habit of buying cigarettes. She tells me that she will just ask the clerk for one, she only needs one, he’ll do it, all she needs is a black and mild. She reassured me that she would be able to obtain one. She sat in the passenger seat, completely frazzled and overwhelmed going on about how she hates her life and her phone got stolen and she thinks that living in Youngstown is turning her in to a racist.
It was a 90 second drive to the corner store where I told her I would take her, I really did have people that were waiting on me at work that I didn’t want to leave standing out in the cold.
I didn’t know what to do, honestly. I thought I should use this opportunity to tell her about Christ, but that felt so cliché to me, you know? She obviously isn’t in a state of mind where she can fully comprehend things, I wondered if me telling her that God loves her would only make things worse.
“If God loves me, why would I be feeling like sh*t!” I thought she might say. I didn’t want to put God in a corner. I tried my best to simply listen and nod along as she confessed her borderline racism and hatred for her own life. All the while searching for some profound 20 second life-changing sermon that would turn her world around. It never came.
The best I could do was mutter a simple “God bless you!” as she hopped out of the car on her way to her ever-so-precious black and mild. She replied, “I need it! God bless you too!”
Interesting. I thought. She knows she needs it. She knows there’s a God. She knows He’s capable of blessing her.
Maybe she is more prepared for a life changing moment after all. Because doesn’t life and death teeter on the edge of our decision to believe of deny that God truly loves us?
I hope the woman is ok. Maybe I’ll see her tomorrow, I’ll give her another ride if she needs a cigarette. This time, I hope I can speak some more truth to her… or her to me.