It was a lazy afternoon and I was the only customer in La Suerte bookstore. I was looking for any book of interest when this weird man poked me. His nearly bloodshot eyes were staring at mine. He looked like he hasn’t taken a bath for days. He wore baggy jeans and a green shirt almost twice as big as his real size. I didn’t notice what his shoes looked like when I looked at him.
I thought I would see an acquaintance when I faced him. It was shocking to be poked by a complete stranger. He carefully unfolded a piece of paper which looked like a hospital document or something like that. I didn’t see much of it. He told me his need of donations for his mentally ill sister. Those teary eyes looked genuine but the thought of it being a scam won over the compassion I felt. It was a sudden clash of belief and disbelief, a moment where my instincts won to protect myself from harm, a moment when I had to choose between trust and suspicion. I turned my back and walked away as far as I could after saying I didn’t have money. I didn’t even see him leave.
After he left, the saleslady of the bookstore asked if I knew the person. I said I did not. She asked if the person was stalking me but I didn’t bother to reply. My thoughts were on that man.
I was still in the bookstore but I lost interest for books. I kept thinking about his situation and how needy he was if it was true. I thought of all the things I’ve learned as a Christian. If a needy person reached out to you, open your heart and give because each time you give, you also give to God.
I want to give blessings to people because I’ve also been given many blessings. I want to be a blessing to people. I want to please God by doing good deeds. I know in my heart that I can do this, but then I ask myself what happened during my encounter with the man. It seems like my fear of being hurt took over the buds of compassion in my heart. The saleslady and I were the only ones in that bookstore and I feared the man’s appearance. Another error, I just judged a man by his clothes and appearance. I feel horrible and judgmental.
Until now, a question burns in my mind. Did I do the right thing today? I feel guilty. What if the man was telling the truth? I just turned my back on a needy person. I just turned my back on God. But then I keep thinking about the hold-ups, the scams and the bad things people do each time they come in contact with good people who are easily fooled.
Only God knows if the man was telling the truth. Only the man knows the reality of his need to solicit donations for his mentally ill sister. I am the only one left with the burden of guilt.
I wonder what would happen if I gave some money to the man. I wonder how I would feel if I were in the shoes of the man. I wonder what the man would do if I was the one who asked him for donations and if he had money like I did. Would he also turn his back on me? I wonder how guilty I would be if the man was God in disguise. Unfortunately, there is nothing left to do but to wonder because what’s done is done.