Recently I was thinking about why we live where we do. We live in an older neighbourhood that is closer to the downtown of our city, than the suburbs. We love the older houses, the nearby trails, the close proximity to everything, and we love our home. But with our location comes more noise than the suburbs, more theft, and all the things that come with being closer to downtown. I have no desire to move, but don’t like the uneasy feeling I sometimes have, living where we do. I also know that God has always placed us in certain neighbourhoods for certain reasons and I don’t think it is any different this time. Yet, sometimes I still ask ‘why’? And sometimes God answers our questions in a unique way:
On Easter Sunday we had our Easter dinner in front of the T.V. watching The Chosen–a good weekend to binge watch season one before season two started. Following dinner, I suggested we walk the block to the convenient store for our first icecream of the year. Everyone was ‘in’, and off we went.
As we approached the convenient store, a young man came running towards us and abruptly stopped when he saw us and jumped to the side–surprised to see us. I noticed that he had his belongings in the low lying shrubbery beside the sidewalk. I didn’t think much of it. Olivia and I stayed outside of the store while Jason went in to get our icecream. Another young man–this time on a bicycle–approached the first young man and they had a conversation but I didn’t pay attention–they weren’t near us. Then a father and son approached the convenient store and asked us if we were okay. I was a little surprised and responded, saying that my husband was inside and we were just waiting for him. He inconspicuously motioned over to the two young men who were still having an exchange. I had suspected from the start, that there was something questionable going on, but I couldn’t really tell. We ignored them and chatted as we waited. The young man on the bike must have driven off, when suddenly he came from the opposite direction into the parking lot and from a distance said, I’m so sorry ma’am, I didn’t know there were kids around. I really didn’t. I was utterly confused, but smiled and said, ‘It’s okay. You hang in there, okay? He smiled, said he was sorry and we wished each other a good day.
Now, what confuses me is, why would someone who is in the middle of what I can only guess is an illegal exchange of some sort, come back to apologize to a mom in her 40s for his behaviour–none of which our 8 year old took any notice of. He was the kindest young man and my heart just broke for him. For him to acknowledge that his brokenness is not appropriate for an 8 year old to see, shows me that he is stuck in such a sad, sad cycle. Sure, he may have thought that if he was nice to me I wouldn’t report whatever they were doing, but even that doesn’t make sense. And then it hit me. God places us in the neighbourhoods we are in for a reason. Perhaps this little exchange between us was part of that. Perhaps that young man just needed to hear the words You hang in there. Maybe those words and our 30 second exchange were more than just a few words.
Maybe we are placed exactly where we are, not for some amazing newsworthy reason. Maybe God has us living where we are for these chance encounters that last but a few minutes, because sometimes those few seconds or minutes may make all the difference.
You may have made a difference in that young man’s life.