It’s been a busy week. I’ve been working a lot and we’ve been trying to finish this present for my family everyday. However, Friday night was not normal for me. It started out normal, but God had some other plans.
I went out after work to try out my new Sigma 10-20mm lens that I got for Christmas. I was pretty excited to give it a test run and after all was said and done, I’m pretty excited about the possibilities it holds. So I had finished what I set out for and decided to try looking at one more spot I’d been thinking about for a while now. I had just gotten up to the Gay St Bridge downtown and was setting up for a shot I saw, when a Mexican guy (like 18 yrs old or so) came up to me asked (in not so perfect English), “Could you tell me which road will take me to Murfreesboro?” I was a bit confused by the question because the guy was on foot. I said I thought Murfreesboro Rd would probably take him there. I said, “Are you trying to walk to Murfreesboro??” He said he was and asked how far I thought it was. I said, “Man that’s like 30mi away. It’ll take like 5hrs to walk there from here.” To be honest, he didn’t seem too discouraged by what I had to say. He really just seemed interested in which direction to start walking.
So I stood there and talked to him for about the next 20min or so while he told me his situation. Apparently, he’s from Shelbyville and he had only really been around there and Murfreesboro so he didn’t know anything about Nashville. He was in Nashville because of some messed up situation with his girlfriend and her sister and them not letting him stay with them. He had $7, there were no more buses going that way till Monday morning, and he’d already spent the last 2 nights somewhere on the streets (and while I was talking to him, Steven (a homeless guy), who I’d met thanksgiving weekend, walked by (I mistakenly said “hey” to him and got his attention) and I ended up giving him my last $3). So I was a little concerned about this guy, but give him a ride to Murfreesboro? That seemed a bit much to me (not so much due to the drive out there, but the fact that I’d just met him and this sounds crazy even to me). On top of that, Jess was already a little mad and worried about me because I was taking longer than I’d said and hadn’t answered my phone (which was on vibrate) in the last few minutes.
Now, at first during our conversation I was just kind of listening to what he had to say waiting to see if he came up with a solution on his own, but then I started asking God just what in the world he wanted me to do here because the only thing I can think of seems not so smart. So after a few more minutes I called Jess and told her what I was thinking and made sure she was “okay” with it. Then I gave him a ride to Shelbyville.
His name is Julio and I mostly let him talk to me on the way there. I thought I was going to drop him off in Murfreesboro, but when I found out that he was going to walk from there to Shelbyville, I went ahead and kept driving. We got there and I got us sandwiches at Subway, where we sat and talked for a little bit longer. He’s been here for about 5 years (and no, he doesn’t have any “papers”). He came here to live with his dad and go to school, but when he got here his uncle had spent the money for that (he couldn’t go back to Mexico because of some technicality with the schools there), so he’s just been working here ever since.
We finished eating, he thanked me, and we went our separate ways.
The whole thing still sounds bizarre to me.
We live in world where so many people are looking for handouts, that it’s generally downright impossible to decipher who genuinely needs your help. Not that homeless people asking for money don’t need your help, but I’m talking about a real favor. You come across someone that really and truly needs your help and you give them your time and energy. And I’ll be honest, I almost let this one fly right by. I was in my own world taking pictures and I wasn’t looking to be bothered by someone needing a ride an hour down the road.
Now, I’m always (ALWAYS) wishing for opportunities to help people; I love the thought of just randomly having the chance to improve someone’s life. But this? This wasn’t even close to what I would’ve imagined. And really, how could it have been? Is it very likely that a nice looking family of four is going to approach me for a ride across town after their car had been stolen? No. It’s not. It’s probably going to be someone not like you who you wish would just leave you alone.
On my ride home I was bit overwhelmed with joy and humility. It was as if I had just passed the test given to me. I don’t know why he or I was there. I don’t know what either of us may or may not have avoided by me driving him there. In all honesty, it may have just been as simple as one of God’s children needed His help and I was the closest person in proximity. Whatever it was, I just felt so… thankful, so… honored, so privileged to have been given that opportunity and to have let God completely work through me (even if I had been a little slow on the get-go) for whatever His purpose(s) may have been.
It scares me to think how many times in the past I’ve said, “Please, just leave me alone” and failed the test.