I walked home from a class this evening and passed a couple experiencing homelessness resting on a few benches by the side of the road. They stopped their conversation and stared at me as I awkwardly walked past.
I’ve always had some internal conflict with situations like that.
You want to recognize their need, validate them as human beings, and offer helpful solutions.
All of that sounds good, but in reality, that’s a massive undertaking. How do you say all that in the few seconds that your paths cross?
Honestly, there is no good generic answer, because every situation is different. Sometimes just saying hi is enough. Sometimes a conversation happens, and you just have to remember not to dwell on their obvious needs.
It all comes down to making sure that you’re coming across in a positive, respectful, and loving way.
I mean, the adage goes that we should preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words, right? So maybe it isn’t about what we should say, but how we should act.
It’s always nice to pass someone on the street who’s smiling or laughing. It’s a positive reminder that there is still some joy in the world.
If we don’t see that positivity, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be joyful. A smile can speak louder than words.
At the minimum of our interactions with those in physical need, we should always be the loud smiler.