I’ve read my share of feel good articles about people helping the homeless or less fortunate. I’ve watched videos of people asking for food from those who seemingly have it to give but their requests are denied. I’ve paid it forward in the drive thru line. I’ve even offered to buy a guy’s grocery bill when he left his wallet at home. He was buying flowers and the makings of a nice dinner how could I not?
Today was different. I was picking up a few items for the fan4 aka my four children at the store when a lady approached me and asked me to buy her groceries. I was taken off guard then I did a quick scan of her basket as she talked. “I get food stamps but they don’t come in until the sixth. I’m just trying to get some food for me and my daughter.” Within a few seconds I sized her up, analyzed her basket and did a quick calculation of what I needed vs what she was asking me to buy and whether or not it was an expense I was willing to take on.
I wanted to talk to her about budgeting her food stamps. I wanted to ask what was her plan after the two pack of hotdogs, one can of chili, two can of Pringle’s and one pack of break and bake cookies were gone. I wanted to know why there was no fresh fruit or vegetables in her basket. I wanted to know her scam or her hustle. What I didn’t want to know was her struggle. I have my own.
I thought about telling her I’m a single mother of four working one and a half jobs on a tight budget. Then I felt a tinge of condemnation. Yes, I will buy your groceries. As I checked out I couldn’t help but wonder why the clerk didn’t ask her how she was paying. I had her items separated from mine. For some reason I wanted different transactions. Some how the clerk knew I was picking up the tab. As soon as her groceries were paid, she thanked me and disappeared.
As I walked out of the store I wasn’t overcome with any emotion or sense of pride for doing a good deed. That’s what bothered me. Why didn’t I feel good? Why didn’t I have a rush of adrenaline? Where were the endorphins? I don’t know. Does it count when you perform the action but your heart didn’t play a part?
I sort of equate this to praying for your enemy. I have prayed for my enemy and it is no easy task. However after praying for your enemy for a while (over the period of a few months) your heart starts to change toward them. So even if you didn’t have the “right heart” in doing this good deed you followed the Spirit’s lead and that no matter how you cut it is obedience.
Thank you mj. I was having a difficult time with my feelings that day. Obedience is truly better than feeling good.
Convicted. This post put a mirror in front of my face and showed me a glimpse of my heart. Thank you.
When I went back to that store I was looking around wondering if she would approach me again and wondering what I would do.
I drove past a man with a sign on the side of the road this weekend. I struggled so much with the mixture of desire to help someone in need and the irresponsibility of enabling someone who should be working. It is a real struggle. And in my heart I can hear Jesus saying, “whatever you do for the least of these…” And yet, I kept driving. Sad face.