A few months ago, my church did something pretty cool. They sent around the offering basket. ...huhhh?!! I know, right?! "how is that cool?" you ask... Well, typically I get all weird about the offering basket because that means someone wants you give money and I automatically tend to hold my wallet a little closer to my gut when someone is asking me for money( I don't really get that bad; but other people tend to). Well not this time! My pastors at Mount Vernon Foursquare Fellowship (Plug: http://www.mountvernonfoursquare.org/ ) sent around the offering and told us to each TAKE an envelope. Each envelope had a different denomination of money. This was when the economy was really starting to tank and everyone (including myself) was anxious about getting laid off, getting pay cuts, "money stuff" and so on...
My objective: Pray about who God wants us to give the money to.
My denomination: $20
My time frame: whenever I feel like it
So, to be quite honest...I put the money in my back pocket and it must have fallen out over the course of my day; probably at the Safeway. (just so you all know; I did pray that whoever found it needed it and it would serve as a blessing for their day). Anyway, I just happened to have cash that week...yes friends! a whopping $7 bucks...or at lease I would soon be getting the cash.
I had (up to this point) never given money to anyone in my neighborhood. I strongly believe that the majority of the homeless people that are asking for money will spend it on crack, some other drug or alcohol. So with this new challenge from my pastor to pray about whom to give this money to I was somewhat anxious and not necessarily excited about it. I get asked for money on a daily basis, how am I supposed to know who to give it to! Jess had said that she was praying that someone would ask specifically for the amount that she had…ie “hey, do you have $20 I can have?”. What are the odds right?! Since I had lost the $20 I originally took out of the offering plate, I decided to use the $7 that my neighbor owed me for girls scout cookies as the “give away ‘Jesus loves you’ money”.
This type of thing is completely awkward for me to do so I decided to just say “Ok Lord, If I’m supposed to give this to someone, they need to ask me pretty specifically for $7”. A few days later it had snowed. I was driving Becky’s (my SIL) car since she was in OK for a while. The car was parked on the street covered in snow which had somewhat turned to ice (this is an important detail for later). As I was rushing home (to change, get Tana, and drive out to
Ok, that was awesome! right? I run home, change and run outside to scrape the ice and snow off of the car. As I am laboring away scraping ice off the windshield I look up and see two people walking out of the ally. Hmmm, that lady looks an awful lot like Anita. It was!!! Of course any normal person would just let it go… not me. I started walking down the street towards the two people coming out of the ally (zipping up their pants).
“Anita…did you get your prescription?” I asked
“um, no…I am on my way to get it right now” she replied
“Oh, really?? What were you doing in the ally?”
“um, I was just talking to my friend”
“with your pants down?”
By now the man that had been with her told me to mind my own business so I told him to shut his mouth I wasn’t talking to him…Anita was walking off by now; quickly. So I yelled down the street that she deserved better than this…”clean yourself up Anita; life has more to offer you than this”
I was fuming by now! I can’t believe I just gave this crack whore (I am not being derogatory...that is what she does) 7$!! To top it off I can’t find the keys to the car anywhere! I need to leave asap to get to
I call Dawn to tell her that I am running late and sure enough the flood gates of my disappointment and stress came blubbering out all over my dear friend. Looking back I must have sounded like a child. I was talking (complaining rather) a million miles a minute while crying about never having given money before; wasting the money that was supposed to be from the Lord; losing my keys…the key to the house is on them. I can’t come down for supper (that was probably the most disappointing part! I had been looking forward to a family meal for quite some time…). I must say, Dawn did a really good job (of course she did) of calming me down. She also assured me that my obedience in giving the money was all I could do. Its not my job to make people use the money in a "Godly" way…my only commitment was to give it from the Lord and not myself; what happens after it leaves my hands is not in my control. Further, how am I to know what kind of impact giving my $7 "from the Lord" had on Anita?
So months have gone by and I still see Anita from time to time. I always say hello using her name. She has a very timid and unsure voice, but she always replies back with at least a “hi”. She still asks for money to get a "prescription". HELLO!!! Are you SERIOUS!!?? We’ve had many conversations about the fact that she lied to me and I will not give her money ever again. I’ve made it very clear that I will give to her anything she needs accept money and will help her in any way that I can. She came down to see me last weekend while I was sitting on my front step. She had asked me for money for her “prescription” earlier that day while I was with my neighbor Dee. Of course I told her then that she lied to me about the prescription and I would not be giving her money (I should record my response and just hit play every time she asks, right?!). Now she wanted to come and tell me that she really does have a prescription. I took this opportunity to talk to her like normal person would take a serious conversation. I asked her what I was supposed to think when I see her & her “friend” coming out of the ally with BOTH of their pants down and unzipped? She replied “I do have a prescription though” completely ignoring my attempt at a question putting her in my position. So I gave her my left over Luciana Café chicken I had intended to eat for supper and a Sunkist (thanks mom for bringing those down).
So as of when I saw her last Thursday (yes, I meant to write this last week...I KNOW! My blog activity is borderline lame)… she had very nice braids in her hair during the winter months and now she has a tangled mess on top of her head. She wears a mini skirt and a shirt that is not long enough to cover her stomach nor does it button up all the way. The possibility that it’s supposed to be like that is pretty strong. I see her calling after some of the men walking around aimlessly and loitering on the stoops. She seems to disappear and reappear every few days. I wish there were something I could do to help her get herself together or "make" her realize that as a creation in the image of God she is worth more than this. Unfortunately, I am afraid this poor woman is so used to this life that she does not "want" something better because she can’t wrap her mind around what that “better” would be.