At the gas station:
“Ma’am! My car ran out of gas. It’s parked over there (a significant distance away from any pump). I need to get from here (Fort Lauderdale) to Jupiter. Can you help me?”
Why, yes. I maintain a blog. I look forward to reminding everyone what a fantastic woman I am because I helped you.
Of course, my real response was nothing like that, though clearly, the situation has moved me to write. I thought to myself, I have means, this woman is in a jam, why wouldn’t I help? I had already decided I was going to assist before I looked down and noticed she was pregnant as hell. She looked tired and thirsty. I gave her a bottle of water I happened to have and assured her I would help her reach her destination.
Then she kept talking.
“Yeah, my mom is on her way to come bring me a gas container.”
Now, I am fully aware that by most standards, I have never had a bad day in my 29 years. When I have a problem, it’s like, “measures 9-14 of that sonata are a beast” or “my massage therapist is out of town for a month!” Woe is me. I also know that this could change at any moment, so I make a conscious effort to walk humbly and live graciously. Of course I could help this woman. This new information, however, brought in a should.
I asked her when her mother would be arriving. She said she wasn’t quite sure. The woman appeared to be about my age. I just found it strange that a mother who could bring a container of gas couldn’t also bring a bit of cash to fill up the container. Or otherwise help her daughter reach her destination. I told the lady I would return in a minute with some assistance. I got in my car, where my two young cousins were waiting for me. They had heard what was going on.
“Joanie. What are you going to do?”
So like, not only is God watching, but here I am, off the clock and needing to set an example for the youth. I’m just a sista tryna fill up and get home and now I’m presented with a dilemma. Fie.
I thought to myself, there’s this:
And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NKJV)
But then there’s this:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16 NKJV)
I don’t think the two contradict one another at all. Jesus wants us to care for those who have less than we do. That doesn’t mean He wants us to be dumbasses about it. In fact, I would venture to say that it’s morally wrong to be irresponsible with the resources with which He’s blessed us. As a good steward, it’s my job to ensure that I’m sharing both as lovingly and wisely as possible.
For some, this situation might be clearer than it was for me. “Lady J, how could you even think about not giving this woman help?” Alternatively, “Wow. I can’t believe that chick is using her baby to hustle people. Don’t let her getcha!” I thought about what would bother me more – knowing that I could help her and chose not to OR being tricked out of some cash. Yes, I’m blessed, but I work pretty bloody hard to make it rain all this teacher’s salary. In the end, I gave her what I thought would be helpful. She thanked me as I left.
I chose to do so because I could NEVER know if she was trying to get free gas, but I would most definitely know that I had means to help and didn’t. I figured that erring on the side of fool rather than jerk was better in this case.
I strongly believe that the way in which we’re moved in situations like these is reflected in our political philosophies.
Whether we find it more disturbing that an innocent person is punished or a guilty person does not get what’s coming to him. Personally, if I have to be wrong – and I’m human, so it’s going to happen every now and again – I’d prefer that a couple pregnant hustlers treat themselves to a beer than even one woman not be able to care for herself and her child as she should.