My daughter and I were on a short trip and saw a homeless man on the side of the road. She started telling me about her recent experience with Mickey that had touched her profoundly. Later, she shared what she had written about the experience, and I asked it I could share it with you.
Written by Anne Noland
All I did was give him 45 seconds. But they were the most impactful 45 seconds I’ve had in a long time.
“My name’s Mickey,” he said, with a mouth full of sunflower seeds. “Gosh, I’m sorry about the seeds. I’m so embarrassed”
He was like any other homeless beggar on the side of the road. Sign in hand, pacing up and down the highway exit ramp, hoping someone would just acknowledge him at the red light. I typically feel so much tension in these moments—looking at my phone, double checking the doors are locked and asking the green light gods to do their thing so I don’t have to make eye contact. But not that day.
I knew I had a $5 bill and that all I had to be was available. I rolled down the window and handed him the money.
“How’s your day going?” I asked.
“It’s alright, pretty good I guess.”
“Good,” I smiled. “I’m glad to hear it.”
And then he said it. His name. He wanted me to know his name.
I stuck out my hand to shake his.
“Great to meet you, Mickey. I’m Anne.”
Then I asked him a simple question. At least, I thought it was. But his answer revealed that it’s a question with which so many of us wrestle, sometimes our whole lives, never really believing the answer.
“Mickey, do you know that God loves you?”
“I pray he does. I pray every day that he does. I’m out in the woods now. I don’t know what to do. I haven’t done nothing wrong. I used to have it all, a Mercedes and everything…”
The light turned green.
“Well, Mickey, I can promise you two things right now. I know Jesus loves you very much. And I will be praying for you every day.”
“Thank you so much, ma’am. I can’t thank you enough.”
And then I drove away and left the old man with the weathered skin and dirty Packers jersey in my rearview mirror.
There are so many other things I wish I could have said. I wanted to know his story.
But what impacted me so much was his name. I didn’t ask it. He wanted me to know it. He just wanted to be known.
Not just another face, another homeless guy.
He was Mickey.
Isn’t that what we all want?
To be known—valued, important, seen, significant?
We are all like Mickey, we just cover up our longing in more flowery ways:
We obsess over likes on Instagram or creating a “perfect” life on social media.
We talk about who we know. What we do.
We chase money. Fame.
We seek attention. Recognition. Praise.
All because we want to be known.
But Mickey doesn’t have any of that stuff to give him value. He offered me all he could that day. He just has a name. And at the end of the day, that’s all any of us has anyways.
On the surface, it seems that because Mickey doesn’t have any of that stuff we have or we seek to make us feel we’re important, he doubts that God could really love him. Yet here we all are, with all of that stuff in our hands, and we also doubt it much of the time.
What I knew that day, and Mickey was having a hard time believing, was that having a name is proof enough that God loves him. He’s here on earth, created by a loving Father. He was created for a purpose. He’s not an accident.
His name is Mickey. And that’s enough.
I never want to stop being available to learn someone’s name. Because we’re all just like Mickey. We all just want to be known.