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What I GIVE Away to the Homeless

Sometimes, the toughest battles in life are with yourself. We all have ideas and aspirations, but for some reason, they seldomly get accomplished. We allow other “priorities” to get in the way, and we forget about the things that truly reflect our passions. A few years later, the motivation re-kindles for a moment long enough to think about what could have been; and two minutes later, life becomes real again.

I was reminded of this the just the other day, when I was confronted by a man that seemed to be at a low point in his life. I had just parked my car outside of Hobby Lobby to finish up some Christmas shopping when his son and he approached me with that look we are so familiar with in Southern California. He was a short overweight black man with dreads that just passed his shoulders. He had on clothes that were pretty clean, and his son seemed to be completely indifferent to the entire situation. As my buddy and I began walking, he mumbled something with intuitive disappointment in his voice. I’m not really sure what he said, but it was obvious what he was trying to get across. Somewhat instinctively, we stopped and let him give us his pitch. Immediately, he thanked us for having the respect just to pay attention to him. Clever, Sir. Next, he went on to tell us about how he had moved from across the country; he had a job and he just needed to get through the week until his first paycheck came in. It seemed pretty legit.

Normally, I don’t exactly have sympathy for individuals like this man. You see, I’ve been in his position, and it was by choice. Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, I did everything I could just to make things work. I dug through trash cans to collect recyclables; my teachers were even in on it, at school. They would save their recyclables for me, and I’d come pick them up every Friday before I left. My relationship with my father had deteriorated, and my mother gave me an ultimatum. Without going into too much detail on either one of those, the point is that I had a decision to make. Was I going to beg for help, or was I going to take my life into my own hands and be a success story?

It didn’t take me long to respect my mother’s decision to let me learn the hard way. After choosing to leave my father’s household and to go live with my mom, she reminded me, “Cody, you can live by my rules, or you can go create your own somewhere else.” What I didn’t realize until after about a year of living outside my parents’ walls was that she said that because she believed in me. I was a good kid; I made good decisions, but she knew that my ambition needed to be pushed in the right direction, and in turn, I needed learn life’s lessons in my own way. And to this day, I am beyond appreciative of my mother’s strength to allow her sixteen year old son to venture down a less-traveled path.

You can hear more about my story, here. I hope it's inspirational.

So when the man approached me in the parking lot, I was already immune to the sad looks and the kind words. I wanted to see who he was. His pitch was good. Shoot, I thought about trying to hire him as a dialer in our office. However, in order to test him a little bit, I said, “Sir, I need to go in here and buy a few things. I don’t have much on me, but I’ll see what I have left when I come back out. How’s that?” Immediately, he responded, “Well, I’m a little scared. I don’t know what you’re going to do.” Now in a battle of objections, I cut him off in order to remind him, “I don’t know what you’re going to do with it either.”

We walked into the store, grabbed what we needed and headed back out to the car to load up the trunk. I saw the man and his son out of the corner of my eye; and waiting to see if he was going to follow me to my car, I wasn’t surprised when I looked up to see them standing about ten feet from me. He said something as I was loading my trunk with a poster of the famous “Creation” that caught my ear: “That’s the Sistine Chapel... Michelangelo.” As I closed the trunk, I began my journey to find out who this man was with a little more conviction. I told him, “Sir, I like to know that I’m investing my money. I don’t want to throw it away.” Giving him no chance to respond yet, I asked, “How is a man as well-spoken as you in the position that you’re in?”

He kind of chuckled a little bit as I’m sure he was asking himself the same thing. Then he went on to tell his story. While I felt that there were some excuses, I’m sure others could say the same about me. So I pulled out my wallet, and I said something to him that my mother reminded me of several years ago: “Sir, I’m not going to give you much.” Instantly, as his head dropped, I continued, “I’m not going to give you much, but I’m going to give you something. I believe in you, Sir. I believe God has his hand on you. I believe you will do what it takes to provide for your family. I believe you are a good man, and I believe you will make a difference in a lot of people’s lives.” I handed him some cash; and although, he was looking for more, he thanked me.

I don’t know what happened to the man. I don’t know if he was telling me truth or lying to me. Unfortunately, I don’t really know anything other than what he told me. From the deepest part of my heart, I hope that he is the man he seemed to be and that God blesses him. However, despite all of the unknown, there is one thing that served as inspiration: belief.

Sometimes, the toughest battles in life are with yourself. Sometimes, the surrounding factors don’t matter. The thing that connects perception to reality is belief. The power of believing in something is so much greater than any sort of false motivation. Especially this time of year, we see people totally give up on goals because of financial struggles or health depreciation or a number of other things. But it only takes one thing to take a step when you’re not even sure if there’s a place to land. When you believe in who you are and what you have the capability to do, nothing's in stone other than what you intentionally make a reality. Want to lose weight? Believe you can. Want to invent something? Believe you can. Want to make more money? Believe you can. Want to get motivated? Believe you can. Everything else will follow.


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