Tonight I got a call back from the mother of a family we have adopted for Christmas. She needed to change the sizes she had told me. As we talked I asked if there were other items she needed. I knew she needed some of the bare essentials: bath soap, detergent, tp and had been thinking for a couple days of other items she might need: cough syrup, advil, dish soap, etc. I mean, when you don't have money for soap...things are really tight and I was trying to think of things and offer rather than forcing her to ask. In part because I know the asking takes tremendous courage and strength. It's hard to admit you can't buy underwear for your kids or find enough for a single toy for Christmas. No one wants to be there and no one wants to admit they are there when they are.
As we talked we added other items to the wish list and when I asked about dish soap she said, "well, what I really need is a blender." Okay. We can find a blender. She admitted that she's never had to ask for this type of stuff before and didn't know if it was ok to be asking for all that she was. I told her we were there to help, that we want to help however we can, but if we don't know what the need is, we can't help. I also shared that if she tells us something that we can't get, then we can't get it and I will be honest with her about that too.
As we got off the phone I had various ideas of *cool* (I use that term loosely) things we could do. We could do a medicine basket with bandaids and cough syrup and tylenol. We could do a spice basket. We could do a kitchen basket with sponges and soaps and cleaning products.
Then I thought, "one of these days I might just get the bigges- sap-award." And I laughed at myself. Laugh out loud laughed at myself. My eagerness to help seems to be getting under the skin of some of my congregation. Framing it in that light they'd say no....they're glad I like to help, but they aren't always keen on the people I want to help. And then I thought, "would they rather I was too soft than too harsh? Would they rather I were known as generous and compassionate than hard-nosed and hard-hearted?" Maybe. Maybe not, depending on whom I want to help. After all, that wouldn't change.
Regardless of what they think, I'd still rather be known as too much of a softy who was willing to help people even when they didn't "deserve" it, than as someone who constantly turned a blind eye to the needs of the world.
**apparently in ironic humor to underscore the nature of this post, mid-post I got a call from California Firefighter's association. They need money (of course). $35 ma'am? No. How about $20? Did you have a note next to my name telling you I am a sap?? No...ma'am, I mean, I don't think you're a sap. That's because you don't know. So I gave my $20 gift to help the firefighters, 'cause I'd hate to lose my title over a mere $20.