Are You Lost? Do You Know Where You’re Going?: Kind People Want to Help

I was running Tuesday, October 17, about 9:30 a.m. An SUV was in the turning lane a hundred yards ahead. She didn’t turn even though no cars were coming. A lady had her phone in her hand and her window down.

“Do you know where you’re going?” she asked.
I replied, “Yes. I’m going home, 756 Woodland Way.”
“Are you lost?”
“I once was lost, but now I’m found.”
“Does anyone know where you are?
“My wife follows me on her iPad with Find My Friends.”
“Do you need a ride?”
“No, thank you. I’m getting my exercise.”

I continued to run down Charlotte Avenue toward my house.

About a quarter of a mile down the road, the lady in the SUV came from behind and passed me again. She had to turn around to do that. She was making an effort to be sure I was safe.

As I approached the street to my house, she was parked at the entrance to Western Hills Church of Christ. I came to her car. We talked about running, kindness, and making the extra effort to help someone who could have been in danger.

Sally (not her real name) apologized for bothering me.

I assured her she wasn’t bothering me. She was showing kindness and concern. She didn’t pity me and say, “Ain’t it awful because that old man doesn’t know where he’s going.” She investigated, asked questions, checked the accuracy of what I said, and followed until she had evidence that I was going home.

And she called Metro police. As I was going up the hill home, Officer Robert Allen pulled up beside me.

I asked, “Have you received a call about me?”.

He said, “Yes. I’ve received two.”

We discussed my running, and on other occasions being questioned by officers. In every place I’ve lived since I started running without shoes, except for McMinnville, Tennessee, I’ve been stopped and asked two questions:

  1. “Sir, do you realize you don’t have any shoes on?” I reply with a dull look, “Well, I knew I left something at home.”
  2. “Are you alright?” Then I repeat my running elevator speech: “My name is Jerrie Barber. I’m from Nashville, Tennessee. I’m 78 years old. I’ve been running for 54 years. Since March 2010, I’ve been running barefoot. If I felt better when I was 20, I don’t remember it.”

I found out from a neighbor there was another officer in the driveway at Western Hills Church of Christ.

Here are the police reports:

Date:10/17/2023 09:38:41: BDYO MW RED HAT BLK SHIRT RED PANTS NO SHOES RUNNON ON THE SIDE OF THE RD # CMP ADV MALE SD HE WAS LOST BUT IS NOW FOUND AND IS JUST EXERCISING # CMP WORIED HE HAS DEMENIA AND IS LOST # REF 47

Date:10/17/2023 09:42:13 Dup: OLDER MW GRY SWEAT SRT RED SWEAT PANTS RUNNING W/NO SHOES/LS RUNNING AWAY FRM OHB/THINKS HE RAN AWAY FRM ASSISTED LIVING HOME

Life Lessons

  • Some good questions to ask ourselves and others often:
  1. Do you know where you’re going?
  2. Are you lost?
  3. Does anyone know where you are?
  4. Do you need a ride? These are risky questions. Some may resent them and get defensive. It can be dangerous. Do you offer a ride to someone you don’t know? Only if you think they need assistance, direction, and may be in danger if you don’t help—and you care enough to take the risk.
  • Compassion is more than feeling sorry for someone. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Sally was concerned for my safety. She stopped and asked questions. Asked more questions. She turned around and followed me. Stopped and waited. Talked with me some more. She asked again if I knew where I lived and called the police for help and further verification of my safety. She risked being criticized. She spent time. She went the extra mile. If I had been lost, she would be sure I found my way home. She was willing to do all she could and ask for help to ensure my safety. Officer Robert Allen complimented Sally. He said many people call the police and forget it. Sally stayed with her concern until she knew it had been investigated and I was safe.
  • When we have concerns about someone, do something. Ask about where they’re going. The loving thing to do is interact and ask questions. Don’t accept quick, easy answers. Turn around. Check again. Does what they’re doing agree with what they said? Call for help. Ask someone else to call for backup.
  • If people don’t know our story, they’ll make up one. It’s best to give the facts in most situations. If you don’t know when you see an old man running down Charlotte Avenue in Nashville, Tennessee, a likely explanation is he doesn’t know what he’s doing. If you’ve driven that route often during the last thirty-five years, you know he’s a weird preacher with a red hat and red pants who runs without shoes if the temperature is 50º or above, and he waves at everyone — going and coming.
  • Let’s go out of our way to watch out for and help each other. Life’s highway is dangerous. Many people are lost and don’t know the way home. They’ll get hurt if they don’t find direction.

Thank you, Sally, Officer Robert Allen, and the backup officer on Charlotte Avenue, for your kindness. You were Good Samaritans. I’ve never had a priest or a Levite stop to express concern. Many people may have the same questions but pass by on the other side.

Information on Barefoot Running

Sermon: What I’ve Learned about Life from Barefoot Running

Sermon Outline: What I’ve Learned about Life from Barefoot Running

Books on Barefoot Running:

To find more information or buy these books on Amazon, click the links below. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. There is no additional charge to you.

Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall

Barefoot Running, by Michael Sanders

What are some acts of kindness you have done or have had others do for you?

(Visited 459 times, 459 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

8 Responses to “Are You Lost? Do You Know Where You’re Going?: Kind People Want to Help

  • Proof that truth is often stranger than fiction. Real-life events make good teachers. You did not appear to be normal. I know it’s not a requirement for a Christian to run down the road barefooted – it is not normal – but Christians are “aliens and strangers” (1 PET 2:11, NASB) and sometimes people may think we are “mad/out of our mind”(Acts 26:25). We are weird to the world. You made powerful observations, and my take away is Christians are often misunderstood because we do not think and act like the average person. I learned much from your application. Thank you, Jerrie. Roger Leonard

  • Keith Parker
    8 months ago

    I’m with “Sally” on this one. I think Jerrie is lost and crazy. 78 yrs. old, running barefoot in a red outfit, what do you think? Keith Parker

    • Thank you. I love criticism. I heard what you said but I plan to continue to run barefoot when the temperature is 50° and above.

  • I appreciate my friends, Sally, the police, and others who watch out for me.

  • Steve Kirby
    7 months ago

    Not your everyday occurrence, for sure, on multiple fronts. 🙂

    Lovely story, and lovely article, by a prince of a gentleman!

    We love you, Jerrie!

  • Ronnie Kephart
    7 months ago

    I said it in an assigned critique during one of Jerrie Barber’s classes in the Nashville School of Preaching, circa 1991-1992. “The teacher is intimidating to this student since he has everything so organized or together(Something to that effect…)” However, there’s no greater mentor in my life than this barefoot preacher who is in better shape than I am, 20 years his junior, let alone–his 20 year old self!
    Great story and lesson, Jerrie!

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