Yesterday we were sitting at a red light. We just got off the highway and were about a mile from home. As we sat there, we saw a homeless man begging for food. Shelby's eyes filled with tears as she said, "Mom, what's that man going to do for Christmas? He doesn't have any food or money, so what is he going to do? We have so much Mom .... can we do something for him?"
The light turned green and we drove off. The mile drive to our house was the longest, most heartbreaking mile. Shelby softly cried and talked about wanting to help the homeless man. I felt like my heart was going to crack open. Her compassion, honestly and endless love were both heartbreaking and inspiring. Heartbreaking as she comes to understand that this world is full of injustices and inequality. Heartbreaking because though she will try, she won't be able to help all the needy who cross her path. But so incredibly inspiring because she cares so deeply for people she's never met and wants to give with no pretense of getting in return.
Not sure what to do, I suggested we pack a bag of goodies and drive them back over to the man in need. Shelby ran into the house and started pulling food out of our pantry. She filled a small bag, but it didn't seem like enough for her. I found her a larger sack and she filled that one as well. She added Christmas treats and tied ribbon on the bags. And then she sat patiently in the car, waiting for me to take her back.
We pulled up to the man I looked over at Shelby and I thought she was going to explode with happiness. She was so thrilled to be helping someone. And as I passed the bag of goodies to the gentleman, I was the one who was tearing up.
Though I've been blessed and I have plenty, I have trouble letting go of the material "things" I have. I desperately wanted to be a good example to my children, so I took some cash out of my wallet and handed that to the man as well. The look of joy on his face, mirrored the joy on Shelby's face.
In that moment, I knew one thing: God blessed me with Shelby. She teaches me each day about generosity, gratitude and humility. Her kind heart is beyond measure. And if I could be just a little more like her, this world — our world — would be a better place.
We're just a few days from Christmas and whether you believe in the miracle of Jesus or the sparkle of Santa Claus, I can't help but think that with this single act Shelby embodies the true meaning of Christmas. She is a little bit of heaven right here on earth. No matter how many times I've heard the phrase it's better to give than receive, it's easy to get caught up in the commercial chaos surrounding Christmas. But Shelby, she's channeling something greater than all of us and without fanfare she's doing the Lord's work.
My prayer for me — for all of us really — is that we can be more generous and open hearted ... not just at Christmas, but all year. May we give freely like Shelby and bless those who cross our paths. Then we'd be carrying the true meaning Christmas with us throughout our lives. That to me is truly magical.