Ok, before you deem me heartless, please hear me out.
Tuesday night I popped into Whole Foods on the way home from work to pick up a few last minute Thanksgiving necessities. My husband was feeling sick with a cold, so he waited in the car.
As I was perusing the lemon selection, a young Hispanic woman approached me, index card in hand, and asked me for money. The index card said something to the effect of “will you help me feed my kids?” and she was handing it to me to read, looking up at me with this sad puppy dog look in her eyes.
I am immediately torn. We are on a super tight budget. We give regularly to our church, and above and beyond to other ministries and needs. But here I am, accosted by a woman in the produce section, asking me for some cold green cash, and I hesitate.
I am supposed to be the big mission trip goer, non-profit worker, justice seeking advocate for the poor, yet I am a deer in headlights when this lady asks me for help.
A thousand thoughts ran through my mind, the first being our extremely tight budget. Second being, I feel like I am being scammed. Why did she single me out? Why did she come to Whole Foods, why not the Giant down the street?
I check my wallet and I had nothing. So I told her, “sorry… no cash.” Her response was, “well, you could just buy my groceries for me.”
Ok… That’s an idea… but what about my groceries?
I look around and the place is packed. I literally looked at her and asked her why she was asking me. Her response was indignant, “are you going to help me or not?”
Ok… I choose not. I don’t know why, but I told her I couldn’t help her.
Then she got ANGRY with me… “What, you’re not going to help me feed my children??”
I ignored her, and moved on to the limes. She moved on to a middle aged balding man who immediately reported her to the Whole Foods employee stocking the potatoes.
Augh! I am still miserable about this scenario. I considered calling my husband and asking him what I should do, but he was sick, and he’s really indecisive when he is sick, so I decided not to call him and moved on to the bread aisle with the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:32-46 ringing in my ears.
Not 30 seconds later, my cell phone rings. Its my husband calling me from the car.
“Hey babe, I just wanted to let you know that I am coming into the store with some lady who asked me to buy her some food.”
I’m all like… No babe she already approached me and I told her no because we can’t afford it. He said it couldn’t have been the same lady and that he was already on his way in. We said we would meet back at the car when we were finished and hung up.
I finished my shopping in utter remorse. I am such a bad Christian, a bad wife, a bad servant. If World Vision finds out they may fire me on the spot. Why didn’t I just buy the lady some food, and what are the chances that at the exact same moment I am approached by a beggar, my husband is too!! And he says yes without hesitation!
Well, I finished my shopping and moped back to the car where Brian was waiting. He bought the lady $100 worth of veggies and laundry detergent which we probably could’ve got for $50 at the Giant down the street. We compared notes and it definitely wasn’t the same woman, two different women, working the Whole Foods last Tuesday, one inside and one out in the parking lot.
Was it a scam? What it sincere? Who did the right thing? Will we ever know? Why am I laden with guilt? I swear, in my gut, I felt like the woman who approached me was pulling a fast one. I mean, who does that? Coming up to shoppers and begging while you are trying to take care of your own family in your own budget? I know how awful this sounds, but I really felt like she was scamming me.
All the while, my sweet, dear, humble, giving, Christian husband was already on his way in to buy groceries for the woman in the lot.
I said to Brian, “Thanks a lot babe, now we won’t be in the same place in heaven you do-gooder!”
Brian’s response was, “its ok babe, we are one flesh, one budget, you’ll be ok!”
Completely unbiblical, just a joke folks, but still…
What would you have done? What are your thoughts on this scenario?
Leave me a comment, chastise me for being a hypocrite, encourage me for humbly admitting my sins in a public forum, or high five me for listening to my gut.