“How do we deem someone worthy of our assistance?” How often does that question arise. It seems to show up on a fairly regular basis in my life…usually in reference to someone on a street corner holding a sign.
Oh it’s never worded in that manner. We frame it with responsible sounding phrases. We discuss being good stewards and not enabling those with alcohol or drug problems. We volley words such as “wisdom” and “discretion”.
I (thought I) maintain a fairly simple stance. We are charged to love. That’s it. Not judge our fellow humans with “wise decisions”. Just…love. That sounds preachy but trust me, it’s not meant to be. Stick with me please. I am not endorsing you run out, find the nearest transient and hand them your debit card, PIN and house key. God gave us brains and yes, I do believe He expects us to display…well…discretion. But if you hand that mostly toothless guy on the corner a $5 bill – is that REALLY bad stewardship? Really? I tend to think that the junk in the trunk (yes I did just go there) that was just purchased at the store reflects stewardship habits more than tossing some cash out the window. Or…here’s a twist. Buy someone a sandwich, talk to them, and acknowledge them as another human being struggling through life. That one is a little more difficult than slipping a bill out the window while avoiding eye contact and driving off quickly. (Obviously this depends on the person in question. I am not so naive that I don’t recognize there are people who act specifically to take advantage of others’ kindness & I have encountered a few who flat out refused assistance of physical goods/insisted on cash)
Buying a stranger on the corner a sandwich comes (relatively) easy to me. And I have no qualms about handing out cash to that sign holder. I honestly don’t wrestle with that insidious question “what are they going to do with it?” That’s God’s realm. I’m only called to love on them. I ache for those who struggle. I crave the ability and means to reach out and relieve them for even a bit. I don’t write this to be preachy or to sound good. I haven’t live out my own words for far too long…a fact that grieves me. Actually, I share my viewpoint and supposed passion to highlight a dichotomy in my life.
Recently we have opened our home and our schedule and our family to someone God dropped directly into my husband’s and my collective lap. We have given our time and our words and our tears and our laughter. And through it all, with every new development or story or day ending with ‘y’ I’ve wrestled with the question “Is this person worthy of our assistance?” Again, not in those exact words. But I’ve debated the veracity and sincerity of their words and actions. Because my level of personal involvement is deeper, I’ve (mentally) held them to a higher standard than I would a stranger. I’ve shared my home and my spouse and they had better be worth it dammit.
My husband doesn’t have this problem. While I have maintained emotional reserve, he has (acknowledged our questions & set them aside and) loved unabashedly. He simply rests in a relationship with them, peaceful in his calling. I have…not been so peaceful. I am crazy proud of my husband. I’m amazed at the leadership skills he’s cultivating and the spirit of compassion he demonstrates. But insecurity has rattled me (again). I know God has placed this situation in our life for a reason yet fear and control has battled His voice within me.
God has repeatedly admonished me with words of comfort and correction. It doesn’t MATTER if their motivation is pure. It doesn’t MATTER if their stories are true. That judgement is not my job, not my responsibility. Their past…ultimately…it doesn’t matter. God is in control of their past and their future. He can completely transform their life.(In fact there’s some pretty compelling evidence of that happening!) My life and family and marriage and future are in His hands as well and this need to cling tightly to & protect it all is…pointless. All of this…all of it…it’s, well God’s realm. Not mine.
The strangers are easy for me but I don’t know if it can truly be called love. Their life intersects mine for only the briefest moment. This….this situation…this relationship…this has been the true test of faith and love in which I’ve not fared so well. Thankfully God has more patience than me…and I can be taught.