So one main reason for my going into education is because I do believe it to be an effective form of social justice and the best way for me to be used. If I could, I’d want to be a brilliant doctor and go help people with medical needs or make a lot of money and donate it to worthy causes, but I think with my makeup, background, abilities, etc, education is the strongest path.
With that said, today I went to Safeway. A woman outside asked for woman but I barely spared a glance in her direction and quickly walked in through the safe, sliding doors of this supermarket. I noticed she had a baby. As I shopped, I thought of buying her a sandwich, after all, what will she do with my money?
I remembered all the people in Berkeley begging for money. I remembered how once I took a lady to a store because she told me she had to take care of her grandson, and I helped her buy groceries. She persisted in asking me for money which I did not have (I bought the groceries with a card). Later, as I took the bus to church, I noticed her wandering other streets, groceries still in hand. I wondered if she was going to try to get more food for her grandson, or if simply, I had been duped.
In one sense, I want to be wise. As I wandered aisles, I thought should I get her food? She seemed to have a foreign accent – what if she doesn’t eat the kind of food I bring her? How assuming of me to assume she eats meat or sushi or some sort of sauce? But if I give her money, what if she uses it for something else? I’ve heard of situations where people simply hold the baby for a pathos effect. I decided to get a simple $5 Safeway gift card.
On my way out, I handed it to her and she thanked me. I hurriedly walked past, still avoiding eye contact, conscience assuaged. Should I have taken this opportunity to talk with her? To hear about her background? To at least help with the baby? I noticed other people had left some groceries (or maybe she purchased them herself), a lone, limp bag and two gatorades, orange and red.
Frankly, I was afraid. I was afraid of the responsibility of a relationship. I was afraid of her. On the modern Jericho road, I was the Levite who picked up his robes and crossed to the other side. There are still those niggling thoughts: what if she conned me, why doesn’t she get a job, what if ….
Its experiences like this that make me realize how lacking I am in Gospel love. The radical love that still gave despite the knowledge that there were those who hated / who took advantage .. etc etc.
I think back to Jon Bloom’s article on the Desiring God blog, where I was first challenged to give… not necessarily in a foolish way, but at least showed up the fact that my actions of “wisdom” or desire to not be duped simply masked a selfish, fearful heart.
With that woman, at least, I could have talked with her. Offered to hold her child. Asked her what she needed. I could have shared the Gospel. Instead of letting the fear of cost overtake me.