I dropped off my car for an oil change this morning, and then walked down Hollywood and Vine to head to the gym for my daily workout. As I walked, I was listening to a podcast by Tim Chaddick at Reality LA, a local church body. The sermon was titled “Costly Love,” and as I neared Vine and Sunset, I was listening to him say the following:
“When love is really going to cost you, how do you respond? When a difficult person comes into your life, or person going through difficulty comes into your life, and it’s going to cost you…it’s going to hurt….what do you do? How do you respond? One of the evidences of what you truly believe is demonstrated in the way that you respond, not just to difficult circumstances, but do difficult people, or to people going through difficult circumstances.” – Tim Chaddick, Reality LA.
Already his words had my head spinning. As much as I love being a friend to those in need, I can also have a really bad attitude about it at times. I had a few people like that crossing my mind as I pondered this. Then I saw Jacques, sitting on his box, talking to himself and asking people for money.
I see Jacques pretty regularly. He’s a homeless man who hangs out in the same areas, with nothing but the clothes on his back and a box to sit on. Though we’ve met and talked several times, he rarely remembers, probably because he’s schizophrenic (from what I can tell).
Sometimes I just pass by him because he’s not showing any sign of recognizing me – a perfect example of how often I choose my agenda over love’s. Tim talks more about this type of pride later on in his message, but I knew this was just a tiny test put in front of me. Do I choose my plan to get to the gym and let myself be more important, knowing I’ve stopped and talked and helped him many times before, justifying my selfishness this time? Or do I choose to love him?
I stopped. He asked for money, but I simply reintroduced myself, and the topic of money never came up again. Maybe that wasn’t all he really wanted. We quickly got to talking, as he was in a very friendly and chatty mood.
“So what’s your story?” he asked me. “This is Hollywood, everyone’s got a story.” I laughed in agreement and we shared our stories with each other.
As I said, Tim talked about pride, and thinking we’re above talking to certain people, or giving them our time, whether enemies or just people who take a lot of energy. Shoot, Jacques isn’t even difficult, really, just different. Yet I’d had that prideful attitude this morning.
But as I thought about it, I realized that he, and so many others that I meet on the street, are some of the friendliest and most kind-hearted people I meet here. Who else takes time in their day to ask about your story? And shares the wisdom they’ve gained through their own journey? I know I don’t.
I couldn’t help but walk away from our conversation with a smile. Jacques brightened my day, and I can only hope I did the same for him. Because we talked about how we’re really all the same – we’ve all got our own struggles. As we often say at Basileia, “we come together because we can’t make it alone.” I can’t make it in Hollywood alone any better than Jacques or anyone else can. We all just need people and time and love.
This morning did cost me some time, and some energy…but it also allowed me to share and be given love in its own unique way. So what about you? What’s your story?