A Man Named Bobby

I met a man named Bobby yesterday.  He was tall with brown hair and brown eyes. He had a beard.  This meeting between he and I was totally unplanned.  I offered to buy him lunch. He accepted with a quiet nod and a thank you. I told him I would meet him at Torchy’s Tacos.

I arrive at Torchy’s and it is packed, as it is noon straight up. If you never have been there, it is very popular and always has a line out the door at lunch.  It is one of my favorite taco places. I snag a parking spot right in front of the door, my lucky day.

Bobby meets me at the front door and we walk in to wait in line. It is so busy that when we are in line you can’t avoid touching your neighbor. Being this close to Bobby I can’t help but notice that he smells. He smells so much that people in line start backing away from us.  In order to avoid further embarrassing Bobby, I stay put.

He seems quiet and not sure how to start a conversation with me. So, to try and put him at ease, I start.  I ask him what he does for a living. He responded that he is between jobs. Are you married?  No he replies. Kids? Yes, he says 2.  By this point I can see he is not a great conversationalist.  My impression is that he seems to feel out of place and awkward. I must carry this conversation along on my own.

How old are your kids I asked? Boys? Girls?  “Two boys, a 9 year old, and I think a 3 or 4 year old.” Odd I think. How do you not know how old your kids are? We proceed to the register to order. He has never been to Torchy’s before so I quickly explain the menu. He asks me what I usually get. I tell him and he says that he will have what I am having.  I am a light eater and I’m sure that it will not be enough for him so I encourage him to order something else and he does.  The girl taking our order asks him if he would like chips and queso? He glances at me as if for approval and I nod yes, and he orders the chips.

While I am paying for our lunch he grabs the drink cups and asks me what he can get me to drink. I respond tea. He says sweet or unsweet and I give my standard reply, unsweet because I’m sweet enough. He looks confused for a moment and I must explain that I was trying to be funny.  It appears he doesn’t get my humor.

Luck was with us as we get the last table that is available.  We are sitting in the covered patio. It is a beautiful day. He remarks that the day is warm and he starts to remove his jacket. As he removes his 4 jackets I see his arms are covered in tattoos.

We make an odd pair. I have just come from speaking at Texas Christian University and I am dressed nicely. He is in a short sleeved shirt and in well-worn overalls and as I said covered in tattoos.People at the next table are looking at us.  His smell is pretty overwhelming.

I continue to try and put him at ease. How old are you? 33 he says.  The chips and queso arrive at our table. I can see he is hungry but he hesitates as if once again waiting for my approval.  I say please start.  He starts eating with gusto.  I ask, when was the last time you ate?  His reply makes me sad. He said, “I had a cup of soup yesterday.”  He asks, don’t you want any chips?  I tell him I am on a diet (which I am not). I tell him this because when I glance at his hands, they are filthy. I had not noticed that before and I am uncomfortable eating from the same bowls as him. As he eats I observe that he is only eating with his front teeth. As I look more closely I realize that his teeth are in bad shape and it appears he has no back teeth.

As his stomach begins to fill and he is feeling less awkward, he begins to open up. He tells me that currently he is sleeping under a bridge. Concerned, I ask if he is warm enough as the weather in the past week had been very cold. He says yes. He has 4 coats and five blankets. My new acquaintance is homeless.

I have a weakness I must confess, I can’t stand to think of people being hungry.  Sleeping under a bridge for some reason doesn’t bother me as much as hunger.  This is not the first time I have invited a homeless person to lunch, and God willing, it won’t be the last.

Before you freak out and say it’s too dangerous, let me tell you how I go about it.  I saw Bobby on the street corner holding a sign, “Will work for food.” As I stopped at the light, I rolled down my window and asked him if he was hungry. When he nodded yes, I told him to walk to the restaurant across the street and I would meet him there. I have a method to my madness. It’s safe.

I never give money to homeless people, and I never invite them into my car.  The reason I try to help people in this manner is because I feel it’s my responsibility to help those less fortunate. There is a passage from the Bible, Luke 12:48, that I like. It goes like this. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” and I have been given so very much.

I may never change the world, but for a while I can make my spot in this world, a little kinder, a little happier for someone even if it’s just for the moment, and that makes me happy. And on Thursday, February 13, 2014 for a man named Bobby, I think I did just that. He left with a full stomach, a smile on his face and a kind word from a stranger. I think for that hour the sun shone a little brighter in my spot of the world.

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15 Things Emotionally Strong People DON’T Do!

This is an article written by Paul Hudson. I so enjoy it, that I wanted to share it  with you. These are thoughts to live by.

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There is a particular aspect of mental strength that is the deciding factor of whether or not you will have a good life. There are many levels to mental strength and all are needed to be successful and happy. The one particular area of mental strength that has the greatest impact is that of emotional strength.

Emotions are, of course, a part of our psyche, yet nevertheless, can be distinguished from the remainder of mental qualities because they most directly influence our physical body. They affect the way our body functions and they drive every single one of our actions. Without emotion, we would have no reason to act, to do anything with ourselves.

Emotions are our greatest motivators. Unfortunately, they can motivate us to act in any direction, even the wrong one. For this reason, emotional strength is essential. There are countless situations that emotionally strong people avoid and many actions they never take. Here are 15 of them:

1. They Don’t Beg For Attention

Needing attention is directly linked to emotion. Those who feel the need for recognition only find themselves experiencing feelings of worth when others make them feel needed; it’s as if these people are uncertain of their value, or if they have any ounce of self-worth. Feeling unsure of your worth is a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you don’t know you matter, then no one will ever believe you do.


2. They Don’t Allow Others To Bring Them Down

Emotional strength requires resilience. This world is filled with haters and trolls. There are jealous eyes lurking around every corner. The unfortunate truth is that often the people who hold us back the most are those closest to us. Getting rid of these people is often the best solution, but also the most difficult. If you can quietly remove these people from your life, that’s one fewer bridge burned and much less of an emotional trigger.


3. They Don’t Hold Grudges

If you’re holding a grudge, then you already care more about a situation than you should. If a person apologizes genuinely, forgive him or her. If this person doesn’t apologize, then don’t interact with him or her, but don’t hold grudges. People with whom you seek to alienate and hold grudges against take up too much of your mental energy, doing more harm than good.


4. They Never Stop Doing Their Own Thing

Emotionally strong individuals do what they do because they love doing it. They don’t plan on slowing down or stopping for anyone who deems their happiness inappropriate.


5. They Never Stop Believing In Themselves

Those who love themselves and understand themselves — those who aren’t afraid or proud to be themselves — never doubt themselves. You amount to your own self-worth, not a shilling more.


6. They Don’t Act Like Bitches Or Assh*les

People are mean. But we wonder, why? Being a jerk is only good as an intimidation factor, and if you’re trying to intimidate people, then you better be a negotiator by profession; if you’re intimidating just for the sake of it, you’re obviously overcompensating for a lack of confidence. Do you also drive a very large automobile, perhaps? I hear they make pills for that.


7. They Know Better Than To Let Just Anyone Into Their Lives

The emotionally strong are emotionally strong for a reason: They don’t expose themselves to people who break down their defenses and crush their morale. Most people in the world are lost and will be more than happy to take you along with them. Don’t let an awful acquaintance ruin your happiness.


8. They Aren’t Afraid To Love

If you’re afraid to love, you don’t have enough confidence in yourself. You obviously think you can’t be in a lasting relationship, but only in one that is doomed for disaster. You don’t want to get hurt again because getting hurt really sucks. There is no reason for you to get your heart broken again because you are awesome. If things don’t work out, it’s not you. It’s the two of you together. Unless, of course, you are an awful human being; in that case, it is you.


9. They Don’t Lie In Bed Dreading The Day Ahead Of Them

The best part of your day should be the moment you wake up and realize you’re still alive. We take life for granted too regularly.


10. They’re Not Afraid Of Slowing Down

Emotionally strong people aren’t in need of constant action and excitement. They don’t need to run around all day and keep moving in order to avoid their demons. They appreciate a slow moment because it brings them closer to what it feels like to do nothing but living, breathing. This is not to say that they don’t enjoy excitement in their lives, but they aren’t junkies and are more than happy to just go for a walk and smell the roses.


11. They Don’t Do Things They Don’t Want To Do

We all do things that we don’t love to do, but we should never do things that we don’t want to do. The emotionally strong understand that and almost always manage to figure out a way to focus on what they love, which allows them to figure out what they need to do, in order to do what they love. Although they may not love every second of it, they like doing what they are doing because it’s bringing them one step closer to what they would love to do.


12. They Have No Problem Saying “No”

If you can’t say “no,” you will get abused. You’ll be considered a pushover and no one will ever ask you for your opinion or take it seriously when you give it. Saying “no” reminds people that they don’t have control over you.


13. They Don’t “Forget” To Give Back

We’re not too busy or too poor to donate our money and/or time. We don’t forget, either. Some people just choose to ignore our responsibilities as human beings. The stronger you are emotionally, the more you come to appreciate others and life itself. You give life more worth and you begin to empathize with those who were dealt a bad hand.


14. They Don’t Feel The Need To Fit In

The stronger you are emotionally, the more independent you become. You don’t feel the need to fit in because you fit in where it matters: the world. People form smaller social groups that are often skewed and unhealthy. Wanting to fit in doesn’t say much more than “I’m afraid to be myself.”


15. They Don’t Forget That Happiness Is A Decision

Most importantly, the emotionally strong have learned to understand the power their brains have over both the mind and body. They understand that emotions are reactions, not reactions to direct physical causes, but to the way we perceive those causes. In other words, our emotions don’t reflect reality; rather, our emotions reflect the way we interpret reality. Understanding this gives us near-full control of our emotions and, therefore, our lives.

 

An Unfamiliar World – Volume 2 – The First Night

I am sitting in a room that has no windows. Well I guess there are windows on one wall, but they just look out into the next room, which has no windows. In this room you don’t know if it’s night or day.  You can’t tell what time it is because there is nothing on the walls, not even a clock. The only furniture in the room are plastic chairs.

Seated in a semi-circle in front of me are 10 women. I’m guessing that their ages are from 18 – 50ish.  It’s hard to tell.  Many of them look like they have lived hard years. I am to mentor these women as part of a re-entry program. When I was asked if I wanted to volunteer my first question was what did I have to offer? The sergeant told me I could teach/share anything. I could help them learn about how to write a resume, balance a checkbook, or write a paragraph.

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None of those options appealed to me. I thought maybe I had something else to share. Maybe some of my life experiences and the lessons I have learned might help them see that things could be better, things could be different, and that there was hope.

There is silence in the room.  How do I start?  I have never done anything like this before.  I decide to have them state their name, how old they are, and if they have any children. Their answers surprise me. Most of them are very young and have at LEAST 3 children.  Many are sporting tattoos and several are missing front teeth. Their crimes range from theft, drugs/alcohol, to assault, and non-payment of child support.

Then it was my turn to share a bit about me.  I wanted to impress them so I started out telling them I am an author. I should have told them I’m a famous author, I figured they don’t read much, how would they know. Because I am human I had already made assumptions about these women.  I assumed they didn’t read. I assumed that they didn’t care about their children. I assumed that they didn’t have feelings or if they did have some they would never show them. And my biggest assumption was that they were in no way anything like me.

After all these assumptions you might think that I would have been exhausted, but I was not. I am not proud of this, but I had made them in an instant, without any effort, without even knowing anything about them. I had prejudged them. Shame on me.

I am looking forward to learning more about these women, and in doing so, perhaps I’ll learn more about myself. I love the roads that God takes me down. They may not always make me happy, but they ALWAYS have something for me to learn. So hang with me and maybe you can learn something too.