You Can Never Get Taken Advantage Of When You Give With the Right Attitude
An unexpected encounter while shopping with my wife on July 4
By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS. JULY 5) While I don’t hesitate to give a fast food gift card to someone in need, I rarely give cash. There are just too many ways it can be misused.
However, on the rare occasions I do give money, I only do so when I feel an inner prompting, which as a Christian I believe is from God. That way, I can never get “taken,” because it is God’s responsibility what happens to the money with which he entrusts me.
The afternoon of July 4 was one of those “rare occasions.” After checking in at Joy Junction to see how everything was going for our special Independence Day meal, my wife Elma and I went to do a little shopping.
It had been a good day; everything was going well at the shelter and I was looking forward to some time enjoying watching Elma shop. Just as real men can eat quiche, they can also carve some time out to go shopping with their wives. Yes, and I’d much prefer to go shopping with Elma than to attend a basketball or football game!
If you want to know what makes your wife tick, go shopping with her and don’t complain about how long she’s taking! Okay, I have to admit that while Elma was trying on clothes, I was multi tasking and working on my Blackberry updating our social media accounts for Joy Junction.
As an aside, for those of you wondering if I mistyped the word “Blackberry,” because you thought they went out of business, you read correctly. They are still very much alive, and I have been a happy Blackberry user for many years.
Their latest model, the Blackberry “Classic,” rocks. Its keyboard enables me to do a lot of typing relatively quickly and accurately, a feat not typically possible on a digital keyboard, which would have me throwing up my hands in exasperation.
But back to my “rare occasion.” I parked the car, and Elma and I were just preparing to walk across the parking lot to the store when a car stopped in front of us. The window was down, and a lady said, “Excuse me, but can you help me?”
She paused for a moment before continuing. “I’m from Silver … ” She paused again, as if she wasn’t quite sure whether that was where she was from. I added the word, “City,” and she agreed and continued.
“I was just in a Circle K, put my bag down and it was taken. Could you help me with a tank of gas?”
When I asked how much that was, she said $26.00.
Maybe it was a look of disbelief on my face at the high amount requested, or incredulity, because she pointed to a collapsible wheelchair in the back of her car and said, “I’m disabled, you know.”
At that point it wasn’t guilt, but an inner prompting which caused me to turn to Elma and ask her if we had any cash. We rarely carry money. She said we had a $5.00 bill. I told the woman that we would help with five dollars cash, and asked if she was hungry. She said she was, so I also gave her a $5.00 gift card for a fast food chain.
She seemed very appreciative. At the same time I gave her a card for Joy Junction, and said if she didn’t make it back to Silver City that she would call us and we would be happy to accommodate her.
Just before leaving, I told the woman, “Now, be sure to only spend the money for gas.”
“I will,” she assured us and drove off.
Elma and I continued our short walk across the parking lot and came to the door of the store. A tall man with a badge which identified him as being the store manager asked us, “Did she ask you for money?”
I said she did, and that we gave her cash, a fast food card, and my business card for Joy Junction.
He said, “Hmmh. She’s here every weekend doing that.”
I also gave him my card, and told him to call Joy Junction for help with people who he didn’t want in his parking lot. He thanked me, and we continued on into the store.
A few minutes later, Elma and I talked and reflected on the incident. Yes, it seems obvious that her story wasn’t true, but what’s also just as clear is that she had a need, otherwise why tell a story like that?
It reminded me of an incident earlier this year when we were both on the grounds of the Southern Philippine Medical Center in Davao. A woman with a sickly looking child asked us for money, saying that her husband and one of her children had perished in a recent typhoon.
She said the hospital’s emergency room was closed, and she was unable to get the care she needed for her baby.
We walked with her to the hospital ER, which was open, and helped her get signed in. Basically, her story didn’t add up and a hospital employee was pretty insistent that her story was a scam. We still felt prompted to give her the equivalent of a couple of dollars and left.
Was the story a scam? Quite possibly, just like our experience here in Albuquerque. One way of looking at it would be to say it was a lie told out of their need.
Were we “taken advantage of?” While some of you might believe we were, we would disagree (agreeably). The few resources we gave on both occasions were given as unto the Lord, and we pray that on both occasions He will take and use them for His glory.
So maybe the lesson from both these incidents is to be discerning, but never become cynical. And remember, that God loves a cheerful giver.
Another thought came to me while reflecting on today’s incident. Shopping with my wife is never boring.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Photo caption: Jeremy Reynalds.
About the writer: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, www.joyjunction.org. He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on “From Destitute to Ph.D.” are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds at email@example.com.
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