I was speaking to a good friend the other day about being a guardian, not some judge or holier-than-thou kind of person. Subsequent to his chat, I was reminded of the following stories.
I was in Houston traffic a while back. Some people stand on the street corner and ask for money, known as panhandlers. They get contributions and rebukes. Some are called winos who want money for alcohol. Others are seen as the down and out of society and resort to pleading. Most are more ignored than helped.
I saw an interesting scene play out beside me. At a red light, a panhandler approached the car next to me, and the man yelled at the panhandler, "Why don't you go to work, you lazy bum." The gentleman retorted, "I don't want to be on this corner. This is my first step for me to getting better." The panhandler stood his ground and taught a great lesson to all who witnessed it.
Wow! It was a revelation. The man was brave enough to be vulnerable by panhandling in order to start a new life. It was his first step toward betterment.
All around me, I see inefficient, unproductive, and wasteful actions and behaviors. It is simple to pass judgment and even to criticize them silently. Although I feel negatively affected by this, it comes as a natural reaction. I let their actions ruin my mood if they are not doing life or handling things as well as I believe they ought to.
What if, instead of judging and condemning these 'less than individuals' in my eyes, I decided to be their guardian? I could take action to help, safeguard, and mentor them. This action is not to be their hero, but to help from a afar.
A friend of mine was in a long grocery line, and the person ahead of him watched every item rung up. He was quick to challenge prices and disinterested in getting out his money or card until the final bill appeared. He reached for his wallet and fumbled it open, only to see he was short a few coins. The bill was about $22. As he searched all his pockets, my friend heard a quiet voice saying, "Swipe your card." Without hesitation, my friend just paid the old gentleman's grocery bill. The older man was so grateful. Everyone in line, who was mumbling for him to hurry, seemed to be touched by my friend's generosity. What a great example of being a guardian to some unsuspecting person who may be doing their best but not to our standards. After all, he was doing his best. I will never forget this story.
Another good friend carried a few loose dollar bills and cans of soup to pass out to these strangers who needed a guardian. His idea was that if the person used it for alcohol or food, it was their choice. It was their benefit or burden. This is just another example of guardianship.
Now when I see a person digging in their pocket or purse, will I give them the stink eye, or will I become their guardian? Can I give a friendly smile or comment? What will that cost me? I prefer to give away kindness than doom and gloom or judgment. I must be vigilant, or I will fall back into old patterns.
How about you?
Watch for the blind spots.
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