A few weeks ago, Akili and I stopped to have a meal at a Logan Steakhouse in Roseville, Michigan. The place was not too busy, which was a good thing for us due to the pandemic. These days we do not eat out much.

Our waiter was a slender, middle-aged, black man who was very polite, attentive, and made a good suggestion from the menu. When we paid for our meal, we gave him a generous tip along with our website business card. He looked down at it and got very excited. He told us he wanted to share something with us. He quickly left and returned with his cellphone. He first told us he was in a terrible accident a few years back and showed us the photos of his life-threatening injuries. He said he had been in a hit-and-run accident. The car had hit him head-on and sped off as his body went through the windshield. It was a miracle that he was alive. From the photos, he was pretty banged up. But his testimony was “Look at me now. Look how blessed I am”.  It felt great knowing that he was touched by our card to want to share his horrible experience with us. We felt blessed just hearing his story.

A week later Akili and I attended a NA gathering we were invited to. As I sit listening to the key speakers and then others standing in front of the crowd sharing their trials of dealing with whatever addiction they may be facing. I came to realize that there is power in sharing your journey. Hearing and knowing that you are not the only one who has had or is having to deal with an issue or two, is Empowering. As I have crawled and walked this journey with Akili I have learned to look at others’ struggles differently. I am not so quick to be judgmental and I’m able to have some empathy for their struggles.

This past week we were in Los Angles and I’m ashamed to admit that we weren’t aware it was Mental Health month until our arrival. It was shocking to see so many homeless people living under highway underpasses and along city sidewalks crowded with makeshift tent homes. Some were walking with all their worldly possessions in a few bags thrown over their shoulders. Most were masking their mental illness with substances, which were clearly damaging their minds and bodies. It was especially saddening knowing that our government decided to put and leave these people on the streets instead of having special care facilities to help deal with their core mental illness.

When you see someone with an issue don’t be so quick to judge and have a little empathy. If nothing more, say a silent prayer for them. –by Penda