Just got back from a night time grocery shopping trip. I almost always do my grocery shopping at night, since I don't have access to a car during the day. I look around and pay close attention to what is happening in the parking lot. I tend to be pretty cautious (read, paranoid) about being alone at night or in remote places no matter what time of day it is.
So, back to tonight... I was putting my groceries into the car when 2 tall teenage boys approached me suddenly. "Do you have any change for me and my brother to get some food?" "No, sorry, I don't." And they skated off. I usually don't carry any cash, but tonight I had a little. Or I could have given them some of the food I just bought. Or taken them into the store and bought what they wanted.
But, I tell myself, I did the right thing. The safe thing. They probably just wanted cash to buy something I wouldn't want to support. And my heart answers, "But what if?" What if they really were hungry? What if they really did need help? What if those were my kids? How would I want a stranger to respond to them? What would be the best response in a situation like this?
It is important to be safe, yes. But my heart just isn't satisfied by that answer. How I wish I could read into the minds or hearts of those I encounter in situations like this.