You Try and Try Again

Many dry cleaners place cleaned clothes inside...
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Sometimes, we have the best intentions, we have good reasons, but things still don’t work out for the best, or as you intended.

Once, in Hawaii, I witnessed a man digging through the trash for food.
I couldn’t sit there and just watch him.
So I approached him and said, “Excuse me. I’d really like to buy you something to eat.” (We were standing right in front of a Loco Moco. Google it.)
He looked at me, sort of shocked, but more embarrassed and said, “Oh. It’s okay sir.”
But I insisted. “No. Really. It’s okay. Let me get you something. Even if it’s a drink.”
“Really, sir. I’m fine.”
“Really, sir. It’s fine. Let me help you.”
And more embarrassed than anything, he looked at me, with pleading eyes, saying, “Thank you so much. But, really it’s okay.”

I shrugged it off and went on with my day.
It wasn’t until years later I realized how my intentions were good, but my approach just missed the mark.
First, I probably did embarrass him. I didn’t need to be that aggressive or pushy. Perhaps he wasn’t even looking for a meal.
But more than anything, I just don’t like the way I said, “Let me help you.” It still bugs me that I said that. I don’t know why. Perhaps, it’s because I feel like I made him feel like a service project. Or perhaps it’s because I feel like I may have belittled him a bit. Or made me look like his savior or hero. Or perhaps, it’s because I pointed out what he is lacking and how I can fill that need for just one moment. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things.
However best my intentions were, I just simply missed the point.

Another story.
A church member recently told me that her small group tried to do a one day mission project in our valley. There’s a dry cleaning business here that donates clothes to the people in the community. Every Saturday morning, the owner puts out clothes outside his business and people from the community come and take the clothes they need. All for free. The small group thought that they could help to enhance this man’s mission and service, so they decided that one Saturday, they’ll provide food. So they got together and made sack breakfasts for the people to take, along with the clothes. The dry cleaner was more than thrilled that the small group was doing this. He made a box to put the food in. Except. No one took the food. I wonder if anyone even saw that the sacks were there. The owner wrote “Free Food” on the box. But none was taken.

The church member laughed as she was telling me this story. “We just missed the mark.”

There are probably many reasons why the food was ignored. Maybe the people didn’t quite know what it is. Maybe they didn’t need food. Maybe they thought it was peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and people were a bit sick of that. (It wasn’t, by the way.)

But no matter how we miss the mark, the point is to not give up. It then becomes a matter of knowing the community. Knowing who you want to help. Knowing their stories. What they need. What they dream of. It’s becoming their friend, rather than them being just a hand out, or a one-day project for the have-nots put on by the haves. It’s building honest and authentic relationships, no matter how brief your contact might be with them.

When Jesus spoke to people, I’d like to think that Jesus made them feel like they were the only people that mattered  at that  moment. He saw no one else, and nothing else except the person that held his attention.

We’re always going to miss the mark a bit. We’re going to go in with the best of intentions and purest of hearts, only to see that we didn’t quite get it. But that’s okay, only if we don’t give up.
We just gotta try again.
You’ll be AMAZED at the great things that God can do through you.

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