Today I went to get a coffee from the little shop across the road from our office. As I stepped out of the building I saw a young (ish) man who was very shabby looking. His clothes were very dirty and ill fitting as he was extremely thin. He was stumbling as he walked and he clearly hadn't had a good wash or a good meal for quite a while. As he walked past me - he bent down to pick up a old cigarette end off the floor, and then he did it again.
My heart broke for this guy. There was I - feeling sorry for myself - just about to go and spend a couple of quid on a take-away coffee (self -indulgent) and this chap hadn't had a good meal or a bath in ages.
There are some people who would say he was a scrounger, or a drug addict, or a homeless tramp, or an alcoholic - but I saw somebody's son, somebody's brother, somebody's grandson who had probably taken the wrong path, and couldn't find his way back on to the correct one. When he was a little boy - he probably wanted to be an astronaut or a footballer, or something equally fantastic. I wonder what had pushed him to where he is now? Maybe a hard childhood, a bad relationship, possible mental illness - it could be anything. Who is to know? All I know when I see people like that - who are clearly in a very hard place - is that getting there would never have been their intention. Things happen to people and they sometimes don't have the emotional strength or intellectual energy to fix things. Depression and / or addiction is often the result, and that can be almost impossible to get away from.
There but for the Grace of God goes every single one of us....and I, for one, am extremely thankful for all I have.