When God Commanded Me To Love My Neighbor, I Didn’t Think He Was Just Kidding

Out driving with my aunt Paula to get a cup of joe at the Dunkin Donuts by the interstate, we saw a homeless man. Now, as one who did a stint of driving with a  boyfriend to White House everyday, I know those “homeless”  guys at the two local exits are scams. But this man had had a leg amputated, was clearly  homeless, dirty, sad. And he looked pitiful. And my aunt Paula stated crying.

So… I got out to give him $5.

As someone who has spent time around twelve step programs and recovery centers, working with and getting to know alcoholics and addicts, I know the worst thing you can do is give an addict cash. And when I got out to give this gentleman the cash, he was trembling and in poor health. If I had to guess, he was suffering from the DTs or the after effects of crack.

I just kept thinking about that magical night in that Music City BallRoom, shaking hands with one of the founders of the first Alcoholics Anonymous groups in Akron, Ohio, an almost ninety-year-old woman who got sober with Bill Wilson, and as I shook hands with her, I asked her: “Ma’am, how did this little girl from Nowhere, Tennessee, get lucky enough to meet one of the original members of a program that has sobered over two billion worldwide?” 

She looked in my eyes and said, “By the grace of God, honey, and don’t you forget it.”

Now this man, this poor suffering soul on the side of the roadway, looked old enough to be  a Vietnam vet, and I don’t know if he lost his leg to an accident or in service to his country.  I just know that when I saw him, I saw someone — a soul, a child of God — who was suffering. I thought about how all  alcoholics and addicts are someone’s children; someone’s sibling.

I knew $5 wasn’t enough to do much damage if it went — and it probably did — towards alcohol or drugs, but the Lord says whatever you do to the least of thee, you do to me.

And it continuously reminds me that the party that talks about entitlements and “welfare queens” — with the biggest welfare recipients being corporate welfare with tax evasion and those politicians that draw six-figure salaries and do nothing — are somehow, ironically, the same party that seems to claim Christ.

That’s not the God I know.

We can help and treat addiction in this country if we really wanted to. That would involve your actually loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself, instead of just talking about it at election time and on Sunday morning — right before you go out and vote for politicians that strip down any programs that actually help those that you claim to love.

Of all the reasons I am a proud Democrat, it’s because of love for my country, my fellow countrymen, and the complete and total respect for, and acknowledgement of,  this principle thought:   That no man is an island.

God isn’t some magical voice that speaks down from the heavens, he works through us; through each other. You can’t claim to know God, to love God, to do his work,  and then turn your back on his greatest commandment: To love each other.

And while we’re wallowing in homophobia and gay shaming and worrying so much about something God said so little about — being gay — we ignore in a big way the thing God said so much about.  Love.

Candice Mathis


Candi is a lifelong reader, writer Democrat, and kid keeper. She drinks coffee at midnight and schools Gators fans for fun. Catch her @CandiMathis on Twitter.


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