Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bear Humbug

I can't take it when there is someone in need.
Anyone who needs anything, I'll find a way to give it.
I'm a self-professed sucker.
Even when I've been burned in the past...

Like the time Drew and I were in New Orleans, and I gave a woman begging on the street $5 only to be pulled aside by a cop who chastised me for giving her money (and of course, showed me that she made a beeline for the liquor store and bought a Mickey's beer...thanks alot, lady).

Or the time that I gave some money to a man who had been stranded on the side of the road when his car broke down....only to be approached by him a week later in the same exact spot with the same exact story...wah wah wah...

Or just a few months ago when a man outside of my grocery store was asking for money, and I told him I didn't have any but he could have some of the groceries I just bought for my family...and he cussed me out.  Nice...

Still, each time I see someone in need, I can't help but think to myself,
"What if I'm looking into the face of Christ?"

So when Braden received the "Baby Shower" invitation from his 7th grade religious education class, asking for donations on behalf of Precious Life Shelter, I jumped on the opportunity.  Precious Life provides much needed diapers, clothing, stuffed animals, wipes, etc. to women in need.  Women who have come from situations I cannot even fathom.  Women who have helpless babies born into these desperate circumstances who need care and might not receive it but for the efforts of this organization.

I was heading to the store to pick up prescriptions and a few groceries, planning to purchase newborn diapers to send.  Of course, when I got to the baby aisle, I couldn't resist also getting wipes - the jumbo package for sensitive skin - to add to my diaper offering.  Then I saw the stuffed animals.  I am embarrassed to admit I went back and forth mentally about whether I should spend the extra money on a stuffed animal in addition to my planned donations.  I walked up and down the aisles trying to justify an extra $9.99, looking for a less expensive choice, my fist closed tightly around that Alexander Hamilton currency, while my heart tried to loosen my grip. 

Was I really this wound up in knots over the difference between a $17.48 total contribution and a $27.47 total?  I thought of my own two precious babies, now 16 & 13, at that age - helpless, needy, beautiful.  I couldn't take the thought of them suffering, so I grabbed the softest bear I could find, loving that a baby would soon feel the cushy suppleness of the fur against his skin.

I stopped by the pharmacy for Braden's diabetes supplies before checking out. 
The total? 
"I can't afford these prescriptions plus $28 worth of donations as well."
I was beginning to have bear buyer's remorse even before approaching the register.
I talked myself back into generosity over fear of being "too giving" (is there such a thing?) this holiday season. 
Still all the way up to the cashier, I was experiencing an inner struggle.

When I was about to pay, I remembered that the pharmacy had given me a 20% off coupon for my shopping total.  The amount off?  $25.26...only a little more than two dollars from covering my entire donation.

Oh, God, how little do I believe?
Of course, we are promised that when we are generous,
God will repay us and even promote us.
I am such a baby in my faith, I still have such a hard time handing over all I have to those less fortunate, confident in the fact that God will provide for me and mine.

On the way back to my car, laughing at the lesson while chiding myself for my doubt,
I had a fleeting thought of that promised promotion...
"I wonder if I'll see it when it happens?"
I glanced down at my receipt in hand .
Sitting on top of the paperwork I had not yet looked at was a slip of paper, a message which read,
"Here's our way of saying THANK YOU for shopping your Pavilions Store...
$10 OFF.

The price of the bear.
The reward for finally choosing the right thing.
The love of Christ printed out on a grocery store coupon.

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