He Asked Me With His Eyes

Photographed by Steve Bingham, Old Man

 He stood between snowbanks on the passenger side of my car. Stopped at a red light, I read his cardboard sign, and studied the man holding it. A soft grey beard hung to his neck, and a woolen Russian hat wrapped around his ears and head.

The gentleman’s eyes sought confirmation for the nonverbal cues in the car ahead of me. Moving forward, he approached their passenger window, and shook hands with the person there, nodding his head politely.

He saw me watching, and asked me with his eyes if he should come over. The light turned green. Awkwardly, clumsily, I pulled over to the side of the road, and said yes with my eyes.

Pulling a bag of Chinese steamed buns from my purse, I stretched to the passenger door. I was too short, and couldn’t reach the window or the door. The gentleman stood politely outside my window, while I struggled to reach it for him. Seeing my inability, he reached for the handle, and opened my car.

A flash of panic revealed to me how vulnerable I suddenly was if his motives were ignoble. A gun in his pocket and I would be hostage in an instant. My purse lay on the seat between us, and our eyes met.

“Here, they’re sweet jam buns. They’re good.” I proferred the bag.

The light changed from red to green again, and I reached uselessly for the passenger door, as cars lined up behind me, waiting.

There was no time for conversation, no time for more explanations, or a “God bless you.” The exchange was too fast, and left me feeling sad for a missed opportunity.

Smiling a gracious thank you, he shut the door for me, and stepped back onto the snowbank. Slipping my bag of guava jam buns into his jacket, he stood tall, and tucked his hands into pockets.

There is a vulnerability in our asking, and a vulnerability in our offering help, too, I’m finding. Two humans meet on equal footing, and clumsily, respectfully, speak with their eyes. 

(Linking too with Emily and gang at Imperfect Prose.

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  1. Laura Rath on January 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience Jennifer. Yes, there is a vulnerability in asking for help, and as you said, offering help. The fear of rejection is frightening.
    Visiting from Emily's.
    Happy New Year!

  2. Brian Miller on January 2, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    so true in that its not easy to ask….def can be as hard as to give at times….you done good….

  3. HisFireFly on January 2, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me

    thank you for sharing

  4. Wise Hearted on January 3, 2014 at 3:26 am

    Bless you Jennifer for risking and reaching out to this man. I often think I don't know if I could beg as some of the homeless do. But then again I have never been homeless. I know I could beg if my kids were hungry. There is a story behind each of those eyes we see holding their cardboard signs. You are a courageous wise hearted woman Jennifer…and you blessed that man from your heart. Thanks for sharing this, it encouraged me.

  5. Cheryl Barker on January 3, 2014 at 4:24 am

    So glad kept you safe as you reached out to this man in need, Jennifer. Sometimes it's hard to know what to do in situations like that. May God bless you and your family in this New Year!

  6. LOLITA on January 3, 2014 at 7:51 am

    God was the third person sitting between you and the stranger. It was a God-moment for compassion to be consumated.

    What a beautiful opportunity for you, Jen. Of couse, there is the human side of it. What if? But there is FAITH also, ain't there?

    Happy New Year, Jen to you and to your home.

  7. Floyd on January 3, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Living in Arizona and it's mild winters brings those type of people in large numbers. You literally can't go more than two miles without running into them. The sad part is that it's become of a way of life for many who don't want to help themselves and they make it hard on the ones who really do need the help. I agree though, the eyes tell a story and sometimes speak louder than words… Bless your heart, sister.

  8. Alecia Simersky on January 4, 2014 at 12:49 am

    I think those that ask are the bravest. I can't imagine the courage it must take to do so. And the courage to go out of your comfort zone and be a helping hand, God bless you.

    Wanted to let you know after your comment on my blog, I realized that Breaking Free was one of the free books I just downloaded from Amazon. Right now Beth Moore has about 16 of her books free to download. Really excited to get started!!

  9. Jayne on January 4, 2014 at 5:12 am

    Your actions spoke volumes! What a testimony! Too often we are to afraid of "what might happen" when in reality they are genuinely humbling themselves and asking for help.

  10. Southern Gal on January 4, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I needed to read this today. I'm struggling with something and this helped me see clearer what must be done. Thank you.

  11. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:14 pm


    Thanks for stopping in. Have a great new year too,
    Jennifer Dougan

  12. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Brian, nice to have you here.

    Have a great week,

  13. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Hi Firefly,

    A good reminder. Worship in action then?

    Thanks for stopping by.


  14. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm


    Yes, that courage they show to ask, and the desperation that must be there if there is a need associated with children or family too. Phew.

    I was honored to be able to exchange eye contact and some human contact with this gentleman, however short.

    Thanks for stopping in.

    Jennifer Dougan

  15. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks, Cheryl. I know. I so often see homeless people on the streets and wonder how to best help them. I was thankful to have food with me this time.

    Have a great week,
    Jennifer Dougan

  16. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:38 pm


    What a good perspective! Thank you.

    Happy new year,
    Jennifer Dougan

  17. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm


    It's hard to know how to best help sometimes, huh? Our church has some ministries too. I was thankful to have food with me in the car this time.

    May God give wisdom to you and me for each person we run into, huh? It's not always clear.

    Jennifer Dougan

  18. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I agree, Alecia. It takes courage to ask and to be vulnerable in that way. I respect that in them.

    I just picked up my old copy of the Breaking Free study last night and am writing alongside my print from 11 years ago. That's interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Blessings to you too in your studies,
    Jennifer Dougan

  19. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Thank you, Jayne. It was exciting, scary, vulnerable, and humble.

    Nice to have you here today,
    Jennifer Dougan

  20. Jennifer Dougan on January 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Southern Gal,

    I'm so glad this post resonated with you and that God whispered something to you through it.

    That thrills and humbles me. Our Creator is so neat that way, isn't he? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thanks for joining my site too.

    Have a great week.
    Jennifer Dougan

  21. jviola79 on January 5, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It is so hard to ask for help. And I found this past week, it is hard to receive help as well. I was absolutely moved to tears this past week when I heard the sound of shoveling outside my window. I discovered a person, shoveling our walks in the freezing temps solely out of the goodness of their heart. I had not asked for help, they just came & offered it. It is not a feeling I am likely to forget any time soon. I am so glad that you visited me so that I could return the visit ๐Ÿ™‚ Your post touched me.

  22. Jennifer Dougan on January 16, 2014 at 9:46 pm


    Wow, shoveling driveways in freezing temps is a love language that rings loudly with me too, living cold MN. Phew, how wonderful of that person for you. Good job for receiving the gift of help, which I'm sure gave them joy too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nice to have you here. Welcome,

  23. Jennifer Dougan on January 16, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Jviola is at daysnthoughts.com

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