A few months ago someone shared this true story with me. I found it to be very moving and I wanted to share it with you.
Breakfast at McDonald’s
I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called, ‘Smile.’ The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake, literally. Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald’s one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did.
I did not move an inch… an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around I smelled a horrible ‘dirty body’ smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was ‘smiling.’ His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God’s Light as he searched for acceptance. He said, ‘Good day’ as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, ‘Coffee is all Miss’ because that was all they could afford (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm).
Then I really felt it – the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘Thank you.’ I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, ‘I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope.’ I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, ‘That is why God gave you to me, honey, to give me hope. We held hands for a moment and at that time, we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.
We are not church goers, but we are believers. That day showed me the pure Light of God’s sweet love. I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in ‘my project’ and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, ‘Can I share this?’ I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings and being part of God share this need to heal people and to be healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald’s, my son, the instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:
Every person on this earth is different. No one person is exactly like another. We have different skin color, different hair, different eyes, different fingerprints, different body types. We all talk our own distinct way. We all have our own unique sets of likes and dislikes. We have different talents. We have things we are good at and things we are bad at that make us all unique.
Despite all these differences we are all alike. We are all created by one God. We are all His children and we are all created in His image. We all live on this same planet. We all experience suffering in our own way. One thing that every person who ever has, currently is, or will ever inhabit this planet have in common is our desire to be accepted. We want other people to accept us and like us. The problem is that because each of us is uniquely different, it is nearly impossible for everyone to accept everyone. People with commonalities seem to accept each other, but if a person is drastically different from someone else, it can be hard to accept each other.
As I reflect on this story, I think of how different our world could be if we could all just learn to accept each other for who they are. Not judge people by their outward appearance, intelligence, hobbies, social status or wealth. What if each of us could find it in our own hearts to say “I may not agree with you or what you do, but I accept you anyway.” If we could all do that, this world would be such a better place. Love would rule our days instead of hate. We would all be kinder and more loving. Unconditional acceptance would choke out the ugliness of indifference.
I want to challenge you today to try to be a person who practices unconditional acceptance. I’m sure there will be times that you don’t do a good job of this, but really focus on trying to be accepting of all people more times than not. I think that by doing this one deliberate act, you will find that your life is transformed. If enough people do the same thing, we will find that our world is transformed. Don’t focus on what other people do though. Just make a conscious effort to do this yourself and see how much better your own life can be. Unconditional acceptance is one of the most kind and loving gifts you could ever give a person and it won’t cost you a dime. Let’s transform our world one person at a time.