I’m not sure what repulsed me more, the stench of sweat and alcohol or the way little particles seemed to fly out of his mouth while he talked. But there he was just inches from my face talking to me. I could understand only about one fourth of what he said as I looked him over from head to toe. His clothes were disheveled and dirty but what stood out to me most was his hat. It was a regular ball cap, but it was black with large green dollar signs all over it.
The other patrons standing in line at this McDonald’s had cleared out of the way, hoping not to be the next target of the loud-talking, smelly man. However, when I looked into his eyes I didn’t feel repulsed. I felt sad. In some way I hope I saw this man as God sees him – good. My thoughts were interrupted by his mumbling and rambling. At this point he was showing me his armband from a nearby mental institution. I shook my head unsure of why he was telling me this.
He then did something that shocked me. He hugged me.
At first I was not sure what was happening, skeptical and guarded as I often am. Extending my arms into his hug I half expected him to pick my pocket or something. I was wrong. The hug was brief and he just as quickly started talking to someone else nearby. A few minutes later he withdrew a wad of money from his pocket and began showing everyone. He pointed to it with a smile when he showed it to me and then stopped and said something that sounded like, “will you give me a dollar?” I reached into my pocket and handed him all the cash I had – a measly three dollars. He smiled as he bounced off to again talk to someone near the soda fountains, showing them his cash.
It was an odd encounter, one that exposed some of my judgmental, selfish attitudes and left me a bit sad as I watched the police come and make him leave.
I realized something that day, though. The problem is not that this man lacks goodness. The problem is likely that no one has ever told him about the goodness that is within him. He doesn’t know that when his Creator fashioned him He said it was “very good.” He doesn’t know. And that breaks my heart.