Joseph and I ran into eachother again. Joseph is an African-American, tall, lanky, and very energetic for his fifties. I helped him with food a few months ago outside of church. This time he was peddling for change in Westport, a district known for bars and nightlife. As we talked, walked and discussed music, local businesses, personal history, I realzed how genuine Joseph is. With tears in his eyes he told me of church people who loved him well and really took care of him. He told me about a man who let Joseph stay at his house for a while; right then, I wanted to do the same.
Instead, I listened, and I felt selfish. Not because I wouldn’t bring him home to my apartment, not because I had been spending ‘a lot’ of money on food at restaurants lately (a lot for me), and I did not feel selfish because I only gave him two dollars. In fact, he told me not to give him anything because he knew I worked for tips at a local restaurant and he doesn’t like peddling the local workforce. I felt selfish because with Joseph I felt God’s love. I felt selfish because that love felt completely absent before I ran into Joseph. Yet, as he wrapped his arms around me, hugged me, sloppily kissed my neck, told me of his struggles with alchohol, told me of his future hopes…
Lately, I’ve been exploring different parts of Kansas City to try different food and drink from different local establishments. I’ve been meeting different people who are like me: spending money on entertaining food and service. I am selfish when I do this to be alone. I try to create a world where its just anonymous me and the strangers. Unfortunately, this is either ends with loneliness or God showing up supernaturally through friends like Joseph.
I am so selfish because I feel my own needs are greater than God’s ability to satisfy them. Joseph doesn’t seem to feel that way.
Here I am learning to trust again, learning to die again to my own wants and to come to grips with the sheer beauty before me in God’s love, in Jesus. Actually, I have to trust that this love will help me die to my own wants and needs, otherwise my selfish soul will sneak behind my attempts at godly works and destroy me from the inside out. My prayer is therefore:
Keep me planted in your love
Where my feet wander
Find me in your grace
Erase my wrong turns
So I am where You are
Love me tenderly
For I am weak and desperate
At the road, encounter me
Shape me with kindess and mercy
So I can do the same, selflessly…