A few months ago, I had the urge to write something that reflected particular attitudes of my own heart.
I hope that this story is something that you can relate to.
The $10 Secret
By Daniel Bell
“This job is horrible, God!” Matthew yelled to the night sky as he was walking home, at 10:20 p.m.The night was cold and so was his heart.
Matthew could not hide his disdain for working at a dead-end job. As a 30 year-old in America, he gets paid 11.25 per hour from a job that does not match his personality. It eats him alive. To add insult to injury, he needs to borrow from family to make ends meet sometimes. Every time he borrows, an ounce of dignity leaves his soul. Some days, he is hopeful for a better life, but most days he is not.
One particular night, he had prayed for God to give him hope like never before. He could have asked for more money, or even a car (he doesn’t have one), but hope was something that he craved far above anything else because he knew that hope is what drives a person to believe in something great, something wonderful.
As he was walking home, he walked passed this man who looked almost twice his age and appeared to be homeless.
“I really don’t have time to stop and talk to anyone. I really, really, don’t. I–“
He stopped walking and sighed.
“Okay,” he said under his cold breath.
He turned around, walked toward the man and pulled out his wallet. He sees the man sprawled across a concrete bench outside of city hall. A backpack and a bike were near him. He seemed to be warm that night, wearing sweatpants, a sweatshirt, a cargo jacket and a beanie hat on his head with only his arm to lay on for rest.
“Excuse me, sir?” Matthew uttered.
The man slowly opened his eyes and then got up. Matthew came up close.
“Sir, I don’t have much but I do have some cash to give. I have 10 dollars,” Matthew said.
The man had shown a wide smile after receiving that 10 dollars. Matthew noticed the smile too but was dumbfounded by seeing that smile. In Matthew’s mind, he does not see the 10 dollars doing much for the man.
That is why after he turned away, he had to do something that could be intrusive. He had to ask a question.So he came back and interrupted the man’s rest again.
“I’m sorry sir, I don’t mean to bother you but …”
Then he paused, bringing his left hand to his chin to determine whether or not he should ask the question. He goes for it.
“When I gave you that 10 dollars, you smiled pretty big. Why?”
The man slowly raised himself up from his horizontal position, and then he grabbed the edge of the bench with his hands and looked up at Matthew. It was his turn to speak.
“Son, I have seen a lot, been through a lot, and have done a lot of things that I am not proud of. In my sixty somethin’ years of life, I’ve seen people take from people and others would take advantage of people like you and me.It is rare for me to see giving people, and that is some’n that I cherish. You dun know me, I dun know you but you gave me 10 smackeroos anyway! I believe that God put that on your heart to give it to me,and for that I am eternally grateful.”
Matthew still does not see the heart behind such an answer that came from this man. He needed to know more.
” ‘Scuse me for being blunt, but how can you be happy with just getting 10 dollars from someone? I mean, this is America. Home of the American dream. Why are you not aiming to do better, owning a home and be happy?”
The man looked him dead in the eye, and had a readied answer for him.
“Son, I have been around a lot of money, and I have lost a lot of money as well as close friends in the,well, process, but one thing I have not lost is my soul.” The old man said.
Then he put his two hands together to make one fist.
“You see, happiness and contentment go hand-in-hand like this. You can’t take a certain direction with one hand and leave the other hand. Wherever one hand goes, the other hand is there. Same thing for happiness and contentment: wherever one is, the other is there too. That is why I smiled when you gave me that 10 dollars. I would have been content with even a dollar. In any case, you gave out of a givin’ heart and that is something that I can be happy ‘bout.”
Stunned, Matthew said “Thank you” and just walked away. His life just changed forever.
J.J. Abrams, the director of the upcoming Star Wars film Rise of Skywalker, once said(paraphrased) that to write a great story or direct a great film, you need to put a little of yourself into it.
Well in this piece, I certainly have done that. You might be able to guess which character I put myself in.
That’s right, Matthew.
I wish to say that it was only one particular night where I cried to God about my situations, sharing my frustrations with him. That is certainly not the case. My eyes and voice have had their days of despair and frustration translated into prayers and accusations toward God when he’s not the one to blame for anything.
Anywho, can you identify with Matthew? Would you compare happiness with contentment? I will actually like to know