I was determined to get my annual donation bags to charity before Christmas, so I went to a mobile bin. There appeared to be no one there so I put my car in park but left it running.
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That’s when I noticed a guy walk out from behind the bin. He was around 23 years old, obviously homeless, wearing dirty jeans. He had a scraggy beard, and wild, dark, curly hair. His jacket was a thin zip-up hoodie. He had to be freezing.
He was talking and motioning with his arms, but there was no one there. That made me nervous.
I knew I should go find another bin, but I couldn’t leave. I thought about my own 23-year old son and wondered if the homeless kid’s actions were addiction-related or mental illness. I felt sad. I had to do something.
I remembered the fur-lined hoodie I bought my own son for Christmas. I wanted to give it to the kid, but I was afraid to get out of my car. I didn’t know how severe his problems were. I prayed, “God, if this was my son or your Son, we would want someone to show him kindness. Help me find a way.”
A man in his early 50s pulled up in a silver Lexus. My mouth literally dropped open.
He had on a jogging suit and a Cowboys hat. He looked like a nice guy, other than the Cowboys hat, so I jumped out of my car when he got out of his. I jogged the hoodie over to the homeless kid.
“This is for you, ” I said. His dark eyes were desolate. They looked too tired to be the eyes of a 23-year-old. I wondered if his mother was somewhere worried sick about him. My mother’s love fired up, and a tear slipped down my cheek.
He took the jacket but looked confused. He noticed the Lexus guy putting bags in the bin and handed him the jacket.
I groaned and said, “No!”
The Lexus guy had it under control. He helped the kid put the hoodie on. The homeless kid ran both palms down the front of it, pulled the hood over his head, and stuck his hands into the pockets. The Lexus guy walked him over to the curb and patted his back as the kid sat down.
“Thanks,” I said. “I have a son that age and I hope someone would give him a coat if he was cold.”
He stared at me and said, “I have a son that age, too.”
Whether it was the way he said it or the knowledge that good parents never stop worrying about their kids, it touched my soul. He got in his car and left but I sat there with tears watching the homeless kid sit on the curb in my son’s Christmas jacket. My heart twisted as I asked God to protect him and help him find his way home to his mother.
I thought about how my own son had turned out to be a good guy, hard worker, and great father.
There were times it could’ve gone either way. If not for the grace of God, a mother who fought like a wild bear protecting her cubs, and a grandmother who hit her knees every night in prayer that could’ve been my son on the curb. Thank you, God and mom for helping me raise him. Being a mom is the most important job in the world.
It must’ve been hard for God to let his own son come to a cruel world that would persecute and crucify him. I am absolutely certain I would never be able to do that. I am a mother. I am not God.
I don’t know how Mary felt holding Jesus the day he was born but I know how I felt holding my son.
A mother looks into the eyes of her baby and prays she will do a good job, that he will grow up to be a good man, and that the world will not be cruel to him. She prays that if her son is ever in need, that someone will show him kindness in her absence. That is a mother’s prayer.
I’m guessing that as Mary held Jesus in her arms, she said that same prayer. Yes, he was the son of God. But she was just a mother praying for her son.
Linell Hoffmann of Chowchilla is an account executive at Cumulus Media in Fresno. She can be reached on Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.