We all have experienced a fleeting moment that stops us in our tracks, shakes us up a bit and, perhaps, causes us to grow. I had such a moment Sunday. It was so quick, so sudden, and now that I think about it, it just might have been a divine event.

I was driving the long route back from south Florida to Atlanta after helping my daughter move for two weeks. My back hurt, my body ached, and my brain was foggy as I tried to stay awake listening to the news, music, and the golf tournament on the radio.

As I approached Gainesville, Florida, I was famished. I was craving a hamburger and gratefully saw a Wendy’s sign and pulled off the interstate. There was road construction, but I navigated around the orange cones to find my way to the long line at the drive-through. I finally received my much-anticipated burger and fries and was so excited I missed the exit to return to I-75 North.

I decided it was the construction that blocked the sign and was a bit miffed that I would have to turn around, which proved to be not as easy as I hoped. Finally, I was headed in the right direction and was thankfully stopped at a red light before entering the exit ramp. I was about to take my first bite when ketchup dripped onto my shirt.

“Dang! What else can happen before I can eat this scrumptious fattening burger with these fries that are a bit stale and need salt!” I said out loud to no one.

Just as I was ready to bite into the hot goodness, I saw him standing in the median with his cardboard sign, asking for money. The homeless are everywhere today, and many times I ignore their pleas, except on occasion. I don’t have the money to give to all I see, but this individual shook me to the core. It was as if I recognized him, but knew I had never seen him before.

His light brown hair was clean and curled just below his ears. He was young and looked as if he could be a college student on any campus. His eyes were piercing blue, and his clothes hung loosely on his frame. He did not look at me, but I instead found myself staring at him. I immediately reached into my wallet, and without hesitation, I pulled out the first bill I could find. It was $20, but I knew instinctively that was the amount I was supposed to give.

I rolled down my window, handed the young man the bill, and his blue eyes stared back at me. “God bless you, ma’am,” he said quietly, with a sincerity I recognized immediately. “And God bless you, son,” I replied as the light turned green.

As I drove past him, I notice him swallow hard as if he were about to cry. As I headed north, tears fell down my cheeks.

The interaction between us lasted the length of a red light, but as I drove away, I understood I experienced one of those moments meant to shake me up. I immediately recognized that my hunger, my long drive home, my aches, and pains were nothing compared to those who have fallen through the cracks of life.

We live in a world today where there are such abundant needs and so much pain. We are engulfed with tragedy and hardship around every corner. Some of us have become cynical, hate-filled, and resentful. We are basically in a mess as we become angrier and more divided than ever before. We call people “losers,” “liars,” and “low-lifes” at the drop of a hat, never thinking about our God who hears us do so. We judge others by the shining example of our lives instead of having compassion for those less fortunate. Again, never contemplating how God will judge us for doing so?

Where is our humanity? Where is our God? What road are we traveling on as we muddle our way through the tough times of our lives? These are the questions we should be asking of ourselves. And for us to thrive, we need to come up with answers.

As I continued my drive north, I kept thinking of the young man with the simple cardboard sign waiting for someone to notice him, to help him.

Who are the real losers? Perhaps it is the ones who blindly judge, who are blinded by power, and who can no longer see God standing on a corner with a sign that reads, “Love one another, as I love you.”

Lynn Gendusa of Roswell is the author of “It’s All Write with Me!” Essays from my heart. She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com.

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