Thursday, October 27, 2016

31 days to a kinder me. Day 27.

This is a less attractive aspect of committing to living a life of stewardship and kindness. Because there are always those who will take advantage. Not every person, and not every time. But it does happen. There are times when I will have that inner compulsion to do something for someone, and all the while know that it will not be enough in the mind of the recipient, or that they will see me as an easy 'mark' for future situations. Especially if a kindness involves actual goods, services, or currency. 

I am not wealthy, never have been and likely never will be. A situation comes to mind that happened in my life several decades ago - I would guess about 29 years. I was working with a woman who had a husband and three children. We worked at a convenience store, so you know we weren't exactly raking in the big bucks. I actually made a bit more than she did, because I was 'management'. But believe me, the difference was not that much. Anyway, her husband - like mine at the time - was fond of alcohol on a regular basis. He approached me in the store one day and asked for a loan $20.00. He professed that the need was associated with the children and food. I gave him the money. Soon afterwards, she quit working at the store and though I asked him politely several times to repay the money, he never did. About three months later, he came by the house and asked if I had $20.00 he could borrow. I said, of course, you can borrow the twenty you never repaid me from three months ago as soon as you give it to me. Not nice, huh? But I did not have an extra $20.00 to give therefore I did not have an extra $20.00 to loan.

Someone I knew once told me, "Never loan money you cannot afford to give." 

There are other examples. I, like most of you, have known more than a few people with lifestyle issues that absorb their money like giant thirsty sponges. And while I have no issue with extending kindness and grace to others, I have learned that I have to try to balance my desire to give against my distaste at being used.

Like the woman, with whom I was personally acquainted, who approached me once asking for money for diapers for her 6 month old baby girl. I knew she had had a drug problem, and was leery of the request. This was maybe about a year after the $20 incident, so perhaps I had learned a lesson or two? I told her I did not have money to give her, but I would be glad to give her a box of diapers from the store where I was working and put them on a list we were allowed to keep of merchandise that was to be deducted from our next payday. She cursed me soundly and left in a huff. 

Then there was a neighbor whose husband was a long distance trucker and she had confided in me that he had not sent money home for groceries/supplies as he had promised and she was basically out of food. When I went to the grocery store that week, I bought two of everything and gave her three large bags of food, including milk, eggs, butter, bread, and fresh fruit and vegetables. A few days later, she came with a list of preferred brands for me - apparently I did not buy the 'right' stuff.

Over time and with experience, I have tried to learn to temper my desire to extend kindness to others with a pragmatic awareness that not everyone will appreciate - and that a few will take advantage. This, however, should not ever prevent me from responding to that inner prompting to be kind and giving to those whose need I am aware of, if I am in a position to fill even a small bit of the need. 

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