Tom is a man I have gotten to know well over the course of the past year. After having met him at a dinner called Soul Feast, I quickly learned he was an entertainer. He never fails to have a joke on hand and is unafraid to burst out in song at any given moment.
He has been an encouragement in times when the smile upon my own face was forced. I could go on for hours explaining the ways in which this is true, but unfortunately I don't have time for that and must continue on to my point.
I have only seen him once since returning to Nashville and that was about four weeks ago on the steps of the place I first met him. Downcast and void of any sort of expression, he was admittedly depressed; said he hadn't been to church in a month, couldn't pay his electric bill, and was apathetic toward life. This is not the man I remembered; there was some sort of switch that had taken place but due to the fact I wasn't alone, I had to leave before finding out the extent of the present situation.
For the duration of the past weeks this has been heavy on my heart and I have often wondered what I could do. Since he didn't have a phone, I couldn't call. But I remembered a note he had written me awhile back with his email and proceeded to email him.
Today I received a reply. And my heart breaks even more. He said he had been shot and robbed, but that's not what upsets me. What upsets me is that no one came through for him. No one checked on him. And no one gave him a ride to church when he couldn't use his leg very well to walk even though several knew full well where he lived.
Though misunderstandings may be present, that doesn't change the fact that he feels betrayed by those he calls his friends. His direct quote was this:
...No one came by my house to check on me or pick me up from church. I don't need so called fake friends. I don't plan to go to that church anymore. I don't harbor hard feelings toward the kid that shot me...it was just about the money...but the people of the church, they know where I live, so I do take that personal...You don't preach one thing and do another...And so my heart breaks for him with the reminder that all people are flawed; even those within the church. And I remember the extent to which we all need grace.