To the stranger who was trying to pay for his breakfast and morning coffee with a pocket-full of nickles and dimes and still came up short: I see you. I watched as you exited the gas station with your head down and open your truck door to dig through the crevices between and underneath seat cushions. I could read your expression of worry and frustration. The cashier voided out your transaction while your pile of coins sat on the counter in front of her. I paid for my coffee then asked how much more you needed to make your purchase. It was only 49 cents more than what you already provided.
I rarely carry cash on me, and I save most of my quarters for laundry money, but I couldn't be my normal self as I watched you frantically search the cab of your truck for a few more loose coins. I had quarters in my pocket, so I got you covered.
Some people might view you with indifference - if they even notice you at all. Some might look at you with pity. But I didn't. I saw you much the same way I see myself at 7am: a man in desperate need of caffeine. More than that though, I want you to know you're not alone.
I've been there. I know what it is like to struggle, to barely be keeping it all together. I know how it feels to scramble, making sure that every penny counts for something. I am familiar with that ache of insecurity wondering how I was going to pay for everything that needed paid.
My prayer is for you to know that whatever you're going through right now is temporary. I pulled two quarters from my pocket in the smallest of economic gestures, but you still have a life time of burdens on your shoulders. It's OK. And even if it's not OK, it's going to be OK. Some day, you will walk into the gas station to pick up your morning coffee and something to eat and you won't have to count out small denominations of loose change to pay for it. Some day, you'll be comfortable buying yourself breakfast without worry or stress.
That day is coming. When it happens, I hope you will notice someone struggling and remember what it was like. I hope in that moment you will find your own way to let them know they are not alone, you know how they feel, and their troubles will not last forever. And I hope your tiniest act of generosity will fill you with joy and you will come to realize the same revelation I had this morning: that the struggle was worth it.