by Ken Williams
Here at Catholic Charities, most of our best stories go untold.
Unfortunately, even when the stories are told, they are generally celebrated for just a few short minutes and then everyone goes on about their day.
It’s not due to a lack of stories. It’s not that people don’t care. It’s not that the stories aren’t compelling. I think it generally boils down to time and, perhaps, culture. Those who serve as staff or volunteers are never bored here at Catholic Charities. There is never enough time in the day to serve all who need help. So, the lack of time can be a contributor.
But I think our culture is a part of the problem as well. We’re programmed to get things done. We are driven to quickly hand out that box of groceries, or provide that rent/utility assistance check, or to complete the financial literacy class training or that home study for prospective adoptive parents.
After all, there’s always someone next in line. Consequently, we seldom take the time to share the incredible stories we experience or hear about. Perhaps we even overlook the story altogether.
Someone shared this story with me just last week. A young woman shopping at our TurnStyles thrift store was about to pay for her things. She had just reached into her purse to retrieve a TurnStyles voucher that she probably received at our Emergency Assistance Center right next door, when the man directly behind her said, “Excuse me. I would like to pay for her things.”
Needless to say, the woman was surprised and thankful. Now she could save the voucher for another day. After thanking the man, he surprised her again. This time, he handed her $100 in cash. She quickly responded that she was thinking about how she needed to shop for groceries for her and her children but, as usual, she was having to stretch every dollar. Now, she could surprise her children and get what they needed.
Makes you feel good, doesn’t it? A common phrase I hear used these days to describe stories like this is: “It was a God thing.” I suspect it was. It’s amazing to watch God work through people. It’s amazing to watch God’s perfect timing unfold.
It’s amazing to see God work in seemingly desperate or hopeless situations.
During this year of evangelization, we are all challenged to join Father Andrew Strobl in his efforts to share the story of God’s best work: the story of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I suspect we can all do a better job of telling the untold stories in our lives.