Somebody’s Child

She crossed from the McDonald’s parking lot to the median of the busy intersection. She stood about three cars in front of us. She was all of about twenty. Her blonde hair tumbled from the hood of her gray sweat jacket. With her skinny jeans, stylin’ boots, and backpack she could have been a college student from any of the nearby campuses. And then I saw her whip out her piece of cardboard with bold black letters that covered three lines with girlish undetectable scribbles along the sides.

My heart sank. I thought this is somebody’s child. The mother in me wanted to jump out of the truck and scoop this child into my arms. I wanted to tell her everything would be ok. I wanted to feed her and find her shelter…but there we were on a busy road a few cars away. I didn’t even have a manna bag in the truck to toss out to her. (Manna bags are bags of food, snacks, and water that we made at church once and kept in our cars to hand out to the homeless.) I wasn’t sure what I had to offer her and couldn’t reach her unless we turned around and came back through. Unfortunately, we did what most people do and drove by with the traffic in front of us. A huge part of me felt so guilty. I said a prayer asking for her protection and that her needs be met.

I couldn’t get her out of my mind. I kept thinking that she was somebody’s child. Had her family run upon bad times with the current economic situation? Was she a runaway? Was somebody wondering if she was alive? Was she abused in some way? What was her story?

Then I thought maybe she is nobody’s child. Perhaps due to unforeseen circumstances she had no parents or relatives to take care of her. Maybe she had been a part of the foster care system and had reached the age where she couldn’t receive services to get her on her feet. The questions plagued me all the way to our destination. On the way back, I looked for her but didn’t see her. I said another prayer for her.

It aches me to see things like this in my own community. I am disappointed in myself that we did not turn around and try to do something for her. I hope someone behind me was a better person and more equipped to direct her where she could get the help she needed. I’ve prayed for her for the last few days. I so want to believe that this was just a Spring Break collegiate experiment for some sort of dissertation while a larger part of me cannot let go of my own guilt for my lack of action and responsibility to somebody’s child in need. I’ve always liked to think that if something ever happened to my husband and me, somebody would step forward to guide our children if they were in need.

We are all somebody’s child. Even after we grow up. As a responsible parent, we spend our days kissing boo boos, hoping to mend problems, teaching life skills, and directing our children in what we conceive to be the right path. You know the heartache of not being able to fix what is wrong in your child’s life. You know they reach a point in life that they have to take responsibility for their choices and actions. It’s difficult to deliver tough love. Was this homeless child an action of tough love? Though you might not call a twenty year old a child, I do. I don’t think they’ve had enough life experience to be expected to fly completely on their own with nowhere to turn when things fall flat.. An even every young adult needs a home to come back to when circumstances in life are overwhelming.

And bigger than that, we are all somebody’s child as in the children of God. Deep down, I know above and beyond all things humanly possible that He will ultimately take care of this child. It just reminds me that maybe we should bear in mind when we deal with others that they are also somebody’s child. Will it make us act and react in a gentler and kinder nature? Will we be more generous and loving by doing this? We probably won’t solve the world’s problems, but we might make a small dent in it becoming a better place to live.

I pray for this girl’s safety. I pray that she will not turn to drugs or prostitution. I pray that she will receive aid and guidance to get her life on the right path. I pray for a bright future for her. If you are a praying person, will you please say a prayer for somebody’s child?

52 thoughts on “Somebody’s Child

  1. Pingback: REPOST : HER NAME IS MONICA « The only Cin

  2. How sad, brought tears to my ears reading about this girl, I kept reading hoping you would write about finding her again. The world can be so cruel and lonely, let’s hope she finds someone to help her get on her feet.

  3. This young lady and all our homeless I pray for everyday suzicate. I used to think when I was a member of the Salvation Army that I could save them all from a life on the streets, but I soon learned most of them was there because that is where they wanted to be, and for every one that I helped who was on the streets for reasons out of their control 2 more would take their place. One day I came to realized even though it broke my heart I could not and would not be able to help every homeless person that I saw so I learned to put them in God’s hands and pray for them. The good news is my friend, there are many churches and organizations who helps people with food, clothes, and shelter, although you were unable to stop and help I am very sure she knows that she could get help from one of these places. You have a good heart suzicate, and God is blessing you for caring about others. Love and Hugs Vi

  4. You are such a sweet and compassionate person. I’m with you on hoping it was just some college student thing. Just in case it’s not though, she is in my prayers.

  5. ((((( Suzi ))))))

    Yes I will, Suzi!

    Lately, it seems that I’ve been seeing so much of this on the city streets. And not only the homeless, but also those people who are physically disabled; barely able to walk. I worry about them because my concern is that other people will take advantage of their disablity and mug them.

    I, like you, will say a prayer….placing protection around them.

    “I am disappointed in myself that we did not turn around and try to do something for her.”

    You DID do something for her, my friend.”

    You prayed. You cared.


  6. You have done what you can do, Suzi. You have prayed for her, and by telling her story, others will be praying for her, too. It’s truly heartbreaking how much homelessness there is today in this country. Blessings to you, Suzi. You have a caring heart.

  7. It’s funny how you can walk by a hundred street people and think nothing about it, and then, suddenly, one of them will catch your eye and touch your heart like this girl touched yours. We would all be well served to recognize that we’re not all that far from a life on the streets ourselves, no matter how much we try to pretend otherwise.

    Good post.

    • I realize that some people choose to live this way, heartbreaking none the less…I just can’t imagine someone her age with her whole life in front of her would want to.

  8. Those manna bags sound like a great idea!

    Where I live there are getting to be more and more homeless people. But they’re all older men. A younger woman would probably catch my attention as well.

    • Theay are a really good idea to give those whose signs say will work for food or hungry or if you’re just weary if they are going to use money for alcohol or drugs. I need to remember to put the bags back in the truck.

      • That’s a good point, unfortunately up here in Anchorage even people who aren’t homeless set up “shop” and ask for money – most of it goes to alcohol.

  9. I know exactly how you feel and you are right about a twenty year old still being a child. My daughter will be 20 in May and I must tell you, she is very much still my child! Seeing the homeless and doing nothing cannot feel good but sometimes I wonder what CAN be done? I often feel that many people in that situation (not all) are there because they have chosen something else over taking responsibility for their situation?

    • You’re correct. I’m sure it is often a choice over something else. It could be due to addictions or financial circumstances. I just hate to think of someone so young going through those things.

  10. You said, “I so want to believe that this was just a Spring Break collegiate experiment for some sort of dissertation while a larger part of me cannot let go of my own guilt for my lack of action and responsibility to somebody’s child in need.”

    That’s exactly what I was thinking. Well, not exactly, but close.

    One of my “friends” in college applied for food stamps because she could ~ she thought it was funny.

    Maybe this girl thought it amusing to claim to be “homeless” and watch people react to that claim?

  11. I’ll say a prayer for her and many other people who need it.

    I work at a homeless shelter, and no matter how long I’ve worked there, it still surprises me to see and get to know the people who end up homeless. Some, like the girl in your story, are in their early 20s. Some, like her, don’t look like it. And a lot of times, they do have family. I never have the heart to ask them why their family didn’t take them in, I always feel like the truth would be too difficult to bear. It is already difficult finding out how some people end up homeless, sometimes it is a matter of making a tiny mistake, or unexpectedly losing a job, or succumbing to addiction when times got rough.

    It breaks my heart, every single time…

    • Thnak you. Yes, I have been amazed at some of the homeless stories. Once while working with them (housing them for a week and feeding them at church), we met this man with the most amazing singing talent…bad luck with finances that put him there. Then met one with incredible piano talent, and I think he got a job as pianist at another church. So many sad stories. It’s refreshing when you hear ones with happy endings.

  12. Those bags sound like a great idea. I’m going to assemble some of my own over the weekend. Homelessness is something I cannot wrap my head around. But I know I’ve not done all I can to help. I’ve always given money to those who have asked, but nothing more. I vow to do better. Thanks for the reminder.

  13. Yes, of course. I used to think there were too many people to help, but now I realize that helping just one person can make a huge difference and if everyone would help just one….there would be more helpers than people needing help and the world would be a very blessed place.

  14. Your heart is a big as Montana. And, like the others above, you did do something by saying a protective prayer. I’m sure you will look for her again and maybe you’ll have an opportunity to do more.

  15. Thanks for noticing. When I write about altared spaces so often I believe there is power in the altars we create in life: where we put our attention. No, you didn’t stop your car. But taking that lack of action may have woke you up even more profoundly, and look at all the readers you’ve been able to affect. This has been a positive spin on a potential (only potential) negative situation.

    I think there is power in noticing.

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