Notes from Jan

Hard to Hear Truth

July 29, 2021

She sat, like a social conscience, slumped over a battered cardboard sign on the small island separating the entrance in and out of a Saugus strip mall. I thought my biggest challenge was getting out of Trader Joe’s with just the essentials on my list, until she looked up and caught my eye.

If I hadn’t been wedged between two cars trying to ease onto Route One, I’d have missed her. But we stalled. And while her bent sign was hard to read, she wasn’t. Thankfully, the car ahead of me moved and my conscience and car eased onto the highway.

If only she’d kept her head down. But our eyes met and I saw someone Jesus knew and loved, even if I didn’t. So I turned around. Back in the parking lot, I fished for money and words to pass along. The woman squinted, stiffened and anticipated some platitude as I passed the money to her. I didn’t disappoint. After I muttered something about God cares, she spit out,”God?! People care. Or not!”

Well, she gave what I didn’t want but needed. The Truth. God cares through us. “Or not!” And truth, matters, whether we agree with or like who delivers it.

The day before, I watched and listened as four police officers sat and testified, under oath, of their experiences on January 6th when our Capitol and Democracy were under siege. They gave what many of us didn’t want but needed. The truth. Hard to hear, harder to tell, hardest to live.

George Orwell wrote, “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary.”

Winston Churchill said, “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”


Whether we care,”Or not!”

And, for the record, God cares.

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  • Reply Maggie Rowe July 29, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    This was convicting to me, Jan. So often I have averted my eyes and walked by, unsure of where the money might be going. But you took the time to show her that God does care, and that he demonstrated that through someone willing to stop, turn around, and return. Truth.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 29, 2021 at 8:45 pm

      Well, I’d like to think I would’ve done something more humane and personal, if cars weren’t nudging me on from behind. Eye to eye is the hook for me. If I can avoid looking at their eyes, it’s like they’re nobody. Just a lump on a sidewalk.. A sad indictment against me. A long time ago I stopped worrying about what they’d do with the money. To be generous is on me…what they do with it is on them. God help both of us to choose better..

  • Reply Jeri Mahurin July 29, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    God blesses us through these encounters. When we lived in the metro DC area, this was a daily occurrence and the same people were at the same intersections. I would pass over a granola bar and a couple of dollars. If I did not recognize them, I would ask their name and share mine. It’s so important to humanize them and show a capacity of care. I would hear a bit of their stories while waiting at those red lights. I would pray for them after it turned green. And eventually they would move to some other place and I would no longer see them. I would wonder where they would go. And I would continue to pray for them. Life is hard on the streets.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 29, 2021 at 8:50 pm

      Well, God bless you, Jeri, for caring. It’s hard to care and it’s hard to tell or receive truth. She spoke to me, as did the four policemen. Alas, we’ve gotten too used to lies and too suspicious of the truth. We can and must do better. Yes, “Life is hard on the streets” but you softened it for some with your acts of caring and calling some by name.

  • Reply dale July 30, 2021 at 7:44 am

    Thanks Jan,

    This reminds me of my Dad’s words: “Always tell the truth as it’s the easiest thing to remember.” I also believe we need to remember the terror of the store owners who watched as their life’s work was destroyed and went up in flames at the hand of rioters. We cannot be selective with what hurts the heart of God and, therefore, should hurt ours.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg July 30, 2021 at 10:14 am

      Absolutely, Dale. The rioting was wrong but this was worse, from my perspective. This was against the RULE of LAW, against the peaceful transfer of power and our form of government. And I do believe God cares about ALL the injustice that has been going on in this world. I believe rioters who smashed and dashed off with goods, destroyed businesses, and harmed INNOCENT PROTESTERS must be held accountable. What happened to George Floyd should not happen to anyone in this country. But, I am not in favor of defunding the police. We need all the GOOD police we can get….and better training for them and resources. Law enforcement has its place but not without accountability. However, what happened on January 6th must be deeply dug into to learn, hold accountable and find the best ways to insure this doesn’t happen again. You and I write and view life from a privileged vantage point. Yet, it is an ongoing challenge to stay teachable, caring and hopeful. How much more so for too many in this country. You and I have been friends for many years. You’re my brother-friend, Dale. We don’t always agree, which keeps it interesting, but we always return to love and respect for each other. We listen longer and care deeper because of our faith, friendship and long history. I pray for a spirit of lamenting and repenting in our country. We are hurting physically, mentally, and spiritually. Our leaders need to set an example of seeking and speaking truth…and of working for the common good. Both sides and their extremes need holy help! Me, too.

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