Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Scary Man

Hubby and I fed people last night at the I am Hope Cafe. There are nine of us ranging from age 86 down to someone in her 30's on my team. I have a great team of people. We are all different but our love of God and our belief that all his people deserve to be fed unites us.
We fed 70 people, this number varies from night to night but it consistently seems to be growing!

We are busy...really busy...it is intense moving for about an hour and half. I am in awe of people who serve and work in restaurants daily...it is hard work! For the most part everyone you come in contact is grateful, humble and non-scary!

Scary Man was sitting in the back by himself staring at me as I walked towards him...he had a know-it-all-smirk on his face. I kept coming.
Big smile on my face as I said "Did you get enough to eat?" His reply kept the smile awkwardly frozen on my face.
"What are you smiling about?" "Did you call the Good Shepherd like I told you to?"
This conversation while real or imaginary never happened between me and him.
"I don't remember you asking me to..." I replied while noticing how pissed off he was getting by my response.
I then broke the cardinal rule...I touched him without asking for permission. I touched his shoulder and said that I was sorry. Many asked to be hugged, as they are treated as invisible and this interaction between us and them is the only "normal" interaction they have for the day.
Scary Man hadn't asked to be hugged...in fact Scary Man didn't even want me to talk to him.
I knew I was in trouble...I immediately apologized and walked away to get Hubby in case something developed from my mistake.
One of my team members noticed my expression and came over to me, he is 86 years old and I love him dearly, as a black man he has experienced prejudice but he has made it a point not to let anything that has happened change his love for his fellow man. He is kind and humble...and very brave. I told him what happened and he hugged me and went straight up to scary man who happens to be thirty years younger and about two feet taller. I was now running to get the Hubby.
But...it was unnecessary as our team member with his kind and humble attitude got him to go outside and sit quietly.

Scary Man was the last to leave...and every time I looked up he was staring at me...I tried hard to not let him frighten me or dampen my joy of being there but it was hard to not let that happen. He was outside as we took the trash out and he worried my Hubby to the point of him not letting me leave his side.
Scary Man sat outside on the bench, alone and the epitome of rage.

I thought about all the bible stories I learned as a child about Jesus healing the lame and the sick and I asked God to heal this man.
I prayed again this morning for Scary Man and for all those he may encounter.


Jennifer said...

How great that you and hubby were serving the dinner! But--yikes--that guy does sound scary! I'm glad everythibng turned out ok.

Brenda said...

It may not have been obvious, but I'm certain you touched (figuratively speaking) that man. He must be so used to feeling rage & despair that he didn't know how to handle kindness. I'm proud of you!

angie said...

How sad that Scary man had the power to put such a damper on the goodness you were doing for hundreds of others. The saddest part is that he lives with such rage!

Lauren said...

Maybe he is not really Scary Man, just scared man?

Ronda's Rants said...

I am sure you are right Lauren!

Betty said...

I think you did the right thing, by touching him. It was an impulse that maybe God gave you and you obeyed! It shows the goodness of your heart!

Heather of the EO said...

As someone who worked as a social worker with people with mental illness for many years BK (before kids) I want to tell you that you handled this really well.

Many people with paranoid delusions/hallucinations need simply to be validated. You didn't say "we didn't have that conversation." THAT would not have been a good idea. Because to him, you had that conversation. No, maybe you shouldn't have touched him, but at least it all turned out OK. Live and learn, right? One of the most important things I learned was to say something like "well, that's possible" or "anything is possible" when talking with someone who believes something is happening/has happened that has not. It's amazing to see the ease come over a person when they think someone is finally giving them the benefit of the doubt. I say this in case you're faced with more of these situations.

Sorry I wrote a book there. :) You're doing a beautiful thing, and your response to this man shows your beautiful heart. Believe me, I know how scary these interactions can be and you handled it with grace.

Debbie said...

I'm wondering if he hung around because he enjoyed your interaction. You are doing so much good there.

Anonymous said...

Oh my...that is a scary story. I know you want to help and I love you for that...but never do anything to put yourself in danger. You just don't know....his mind may just be broken. The best thing you can do is what you did....pray for him....but always remember to stay safe.