Pride Keeps Us From All We Can Have

In my post, Sacrifice is the Heart of Love, I described love as a faithful action, where one puts kindness and the wellbeing of others ahead of oneself.  I also explained that it is dutiful, because constancy is what affirms it.  I want to apply these principals to my relationship with God.  I have every intention to deliver when He calls on me.  Even though I’m new at this, I believe I’ve heard the “still small voice” on a few occasions.  This post is about the time He asked me to serve a homeless woman, and what I learned from it.

I was in Target’s parking lot loading my purchases into my car.  I saw her walking slowly from the back of the lot toward the store’s entrance.  I remembered seeing her once before.  I recognized her swollen legs – which could be from layers of clothing.  She was making slow progress because she was pushing a luggage cart that carried two small suitcases and pet carrier, holding, I think, a cat.  Other than recognizing her, I didn’t immediately think much.  Then I felt a nudge in my heart to give her the money out of my wallet.  My first reaction was to second guess the nudge.  Partly because I am uncomfortable approaching homeless people, but mostly because the only cash I had was a $100 bill.  Frankly, that seemed like a lot to give a stranger.  Even though I felt this was more than a passing thought, I resisted.

Luckily I came quickly to my senses and shut down the rebelling thoughts.  I say it’s lucky because I knew I’d feel remorse if I let the opportunity pass.  I mean, wasn’t it just last week that I wrote about sacrifice.  Generosity and listening to your inner voice are core messages I deliver.  So with commitment I pulled that crisp bill from my wallet and held it in my hand as I approached her.  Furthermore, since she seemed to walk with a limp, I decided I would also push her cart right up to the store for her.  I wore a smile as I neared her and felt gladness that I was doing the right thing. 

I said, “Excuse me, but can I help you with that?”

“No thanks. I’ve got it,” she said in reply.  Understood, I thought.

“Okay, can I give you a gift,”  I replied as I made to hand her the money.

“No, thank you.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, wondering if she misunderstood me.

“Yes, I’m certain,” she said looking me square in the eye.

“Oh, Okay.”

And that was that.  I turned around and walked back to my car.  I felt sheepish.  What just happened?  What the heck just happened?!

I was rattled.  I did not expect that.  I though for sure I would have a good Samaritan moment.  I would carry her belongings to the store for her, easing her burden for that short walk.  Then I would smile and giver the $100, with the joy of know I’d done God’s will.  So again, what the heck happened?

This question plagued me for the next few hours.  I felt keenly that there was a lesson to be had.  When I had a quiet moment later that afternoon and was still thinking about it, I received the flash of a memory from 2006.  At that time, I was living in a new city without family and with few friends. I felt isolated, but self-sufficient. I was making it on my own. The memory was of an exchange I had with a colleague and friend. He had previously told me he was Christian and one particular day he offered me $50.  He explained that some of his friends from church wanted to be generous by giving money to strangers and a few people they knew.  I remember feeling indignity when he offered me the money – what made him think I needed or wanted his charity.  I specifically remember thinking how annoyingly Christian of him – assuming people wanted his help.

Now how’s that for God having a sense of humor?  What an ironic twist.  I recognized myself in the homeless woman, and was taught how my pride probably made my friend feel all those years ago.  Above all, I was shown how it disrupts God’s work and, undoubtedly, shuts people off from receiving all that they can have.

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