Walking through the parking lot, I saw a young man approaching people as they walked into the store. Most ignored him, or held up their hand indicating they weren’t interested in anything he had to say.
I scanned the door, hoping to get by without being approached. I was in a hurry and didn’t have the minute to spare that this boy needed for him to tell me his story.
Our eyes met, and he dashed over to me.
“Ma’am, do you have a couple of dollars for gas? I’ve run out and have no money. I really need to get home.”
“No, sorry, I don’t,” I said shaking my head as I entered the store.
I knew I had a few dollars buried in my purse. To my surprise, I had found the money earlier in the day, crumbled up in a deep pocket of the purse that I rarely used.
I hate shopping, but on that day, I was even more agitated than usual. As I scurried up and down the aisles, tossing items into my cart, I felt like a mouse trapped in a maze.
Images of the young man’s face flashed through my mind, and the constant tugging of my heart urged me to find and help him.
I spent 30 minutes in that grocery store parking lot looking for him, more time than it would have taken had I just reached in my purse and given him the money.
But I never found him.
“You were in a hurry,” I verbally admonished myself.
It was that day, several years ago, I began an introspective inspection of my heart and found the importance of living a What If life.
What if I had taken the 60 seconds needed to give the boy money for gas? His stressed filled eyes wouldn’t haunt me today.
What if I had offered to fill up his gas tank? He would have gotten closer to his destination.
What if there was a family emergency that I knew nothing about and it only added to the urgency of his current situation.
What if he was my son, stranded somewhere out of money and needing help to get home. Wouldn’t I hope that someone would help him?
They say hindsight is 20/20, and in retrospect, I would have handled this situation entirely differently. But I can’t go back and change it. What I can do now, and what I have tried to do every day since then, is assess the situation and ask myself “What if” before missing another opportunity.
What If we all tried to live a what if life?
What if we were a little more patient in the check out line? We might notice the cashier holding back tears from the impatient customer from five minutes ago who berated her over having a slow line.
What if we gave grace instead of shaking a fist or giving the finger at someone who cuts through the parking lot and almost sideswipes us? Haven’t we all been guilty of pulling out in front of someone we didn’t see?
What if we stopped rolling our eyes at the screaming child in the grocery store and, instead, walked over to the exhausted mom and offered her a few words of encouragement. It wasn’t that long ago many of us were juggling the demands of small children.
What if we start promoting the good stuff on social media and stop attacking one another with tweets and memes that only fuels the fire of those filled with hate?
What if we allowed people to be who they are, without the name calling or judgment of whom they choose to love, the color of their skin, or the god to whom they pray?
What if we understood we are all in this life together, and each of us has the ability to make the world a kinder, happier place?
If each one of us would take a moment and say to ourselves, what if, before we react, maybe we could help create a better world.
I know it sounds impossible, but