Recently, my best friend and I met at Starbucks to do homework together. I noticed a woman sitting at a huge table with two children and their stuff spread across it. She had arts and crafts, St. Patrick’s Day hats and necklaces, snacks, books, computers, and grocery bags filled with things.
At first I was annoyed because there wasn’t any space left other than a tiny table. I would look up from my homework from time to time and wonder if maybe she was without a home. I used to be homeless and understand these things happen.
Over the course of two hours my annoyance turned to embarrassment as I noticed the two children who were there when I first walked in were replaced with a new set of kids, and another 30 minutes later those children were replaced with another set of kids and so on. It took a while, but I realized she was running a tutoring program.
The next day I went back to the same Starbucks to finish working on my final paper. As I walked in I saw the same woman at the same table but this time she was tutoring a teenager. She didn’t have nearly as much stuff with her as the day before and coincidently, the only place to sit was at the end of the extra long table she and the student were sitting at.
I asked her if she minded and she said, “Please, have a seat”. What an awkward feeling. Just yesterday I felt entitled to this space, and now, here I was sitting in the only seat left right next to the woman who was using this space to educate children and uplift her community. I quickly transitioned into embarrassment but then something beautiful happened and a change of perspective birthed from seeing her this time.
As I put my stuff down, I noticed a few employees were leaving and they all said goodbye to the tutor. This transaction told me that she has a relationship with the manager and employees. I respect that. I sorted through my thoughts then walked over and introduced myself. I shared with her that I was there yesterday and learned a lot just by observing her. She seemed surprised and defensive, perhaps expecting another entitled person critiquing how she uses the space at Starbucks. I had to sort through my embarrassment because that wasn’t at all the reason behind why I approached her.
I admitted that some of my faults I share with many others in my community is that we criticize situations we are unfamiliar with. Many of us complain about new developments in our communities and we protest about what we lack while making excuses to explain why we’re so limited and can’t make moves. Then we have the nerve to get mad when someone else capitalizes on the space that we didn’t even attempt to invest in, build, or get creative with. Sound familiar?
Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.~Proverbs 12:27
Here was this woman on the weekend spending several hours in a public facility doing something that most of us won’t even take the time to do with our own children. On top of that, she utilizes the development as a community resource while building her community and future generations through education and maintains this program through relationships with the employees and with of course, the occasional purchase of coffee or tea.
Sometimes we complain about what we lack but make little use with what we have. Right in front of us are opportunities. Go grind. Utilize resources. Learn from others. Get creative. Be grateful with what the Lord has blessed you with and build on it.