“Excuse me,” said the tall, middle-aged man. “I won’t take much of your time but I was wondering if I could ask you a favor.”
I’m sitting in a small shop in southern Georgia while my wife looks around.
The shopkeeper pauses what she’s doing and I recognize an invisible wall going up between her and the man.
She and I are probably thinking the same thing: what is this man trying to sell?
His body language is uncertain and it is obvious he’s not accustomed to walking up complete strangers and asking for their time and attention. If he’s selling something, I thought to myself, he’s got to learn to get past being nervous in front of strangers if he’s ever going to sell anything.
I looked back down at the local magazine in my hands and return to flipping the pages predicting in my mind where the conversation is going.
“You see,” he says, trying to steady his voice, “my wife and I are trying to adopt a child and as you might know, it is very expensive.”
Suddenly I stopped flipping pages and felt an odd sense of shame roll across me. I’d made a quick and inaccurate assumption about this man and his journey.
As he spoke to the clerk I could see her defensive wall evaporating.
“I was wondering,” he said pulling a small batch of cards from the pocket of his khaki pants, “if it would be okay if I left a few of these here?”
He shared of how a local restaurant would be holding a special night where they would be donating a portion of the evening’s sales to he and his wife’s adoption fund. The cards, he said, would hopefully raise awareness and let people who’d like to help their efforts come out the following Thursday.
I paused, now in almost awe of what this man is doing.
People tend to carelessly toss around the phrase “I’d do anything to…”.
But when it really gets down to it, how many people really know what they are saying?
When this man and wife began their journey I’m sure these very words came out of their mouths. But the difference is, they mean it with all their heart.
Adoption is not inexpensive. Statistics show an adoption can run a family up to $40,000 when performed though an agency or private adoption channel. And if you’ve ever spoken to anyone who’s opened his or her hearts to adopt a child, there is an emotional road associated with the journey one can barely imagine.
But to this man and his wife, “anything” is just what they are doing.
It is obvious to both the shopkeeper and me the man is very nervous and wandering far from his comfort zone. I would imagine when he and his wife uttered their commitment, he never envisioned walking to every business in town asking shopkeepers to allow him to leave cards on their counter inviting people to a fundraiser. Meeting face to face with complete strangers and asking for their help is enough to make anyone nervous.
But “anything” means “anything” – and when your heart is involved, you find your fears and weaknesses fade into the background.
The shopkeeper reaches forward to accept the cards and with it, becomes another step for a man who would do “anything” for his future child.
– 30 –