Yesterday afternoon, walking back to my temporary dwelling, two young men behind a very small table asked for a donation to Teen Challenge. I have heard of Teen Challenge, so I stopped to listen. I guess I was also interested in more conversation with strangers before going inside.
As one delivered his pitch, he beamed a smile that was so beautiful I nearly felt taken advantage of. How does one say no to that?
Well, as the conversation progressed, I turned my attention to the second man who was easier for me to talk with. He was older and although respectful and warm, was not nearly as beautiful. So I spoke with him, asking him about his new direction in life. We talked for a while and as we did, I noticed the first young man close in more and more to himself. It was almost as if he wished he could disappear, he was being so left out of our conversation.
I took out $5.00 and put it in their locked box with the thin rectangle opening for cash. Then I said, "Your smile is so beautiful I could not talk to you." He gave me his full attention. So I went on. "Be careful, you can break hearts with it." His buddy agreed.
The young man came to life. It had finally been explained why he had been cut out, he had done nothing wrong, but I, as the one being approached for cash, had felt that he probably relied on that beautiful face of his, that winning smile, time and time again to get his way.
I was the jaded one, not he. As I left I felt so glad to have let him know that I was merely uncomfortable, he had done nothing wrong, nothing at all.