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.


One response to “Charity

  1. maybe if you go again she’ll be there… but that’s clever. a gift card for the market… i never thought about that.

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