A news headline caught my attention yesterday so I clicked over to read the article.
Because I skimmed the headline and made a hasty assumption, I expected to be not-at-all surprised by a story about someone abusing the welfare system. What I found instead was a story that convicted me and made me sad – not mad.
A 28 year old woman and her daughter were buying groceries when the cashiers questioned whether part of her purchase could be bought with the food stamps she was using. The woman assured them the items were qualified, but the manager still had to be involved. The manager told the cashiers to just go ahead and give the items to her, after which the woman tried to emphasize again that she believed they were eligible items. The manager then made a sarcastic comment about the fact that he worked to pay for his groceries while she did not work and relied on food stamps. The woman turned around to see many other customers had heard his comment and she was brought to tears in shame and embarrassment.
As the story goes on to explain, Mrs. Nerger and her family use food stamps because her husband’s carpentry business is not providing enough income right now to cover their necessary bills. (Not unlike many families, they are just struggling to make ends meet.) In addition, Mrs. Nerger receives 12 hours of dialysis each night for kidney disease that she’s had since the age of 11. She’s been on a waiting list for a kidney transplant for 5 years. They are struggling to survive and I bet a kind response to her that day would have meant the world to her and her daughter.
Are there people who take advantage of government assistance? Definitely.
Are there people who genuinely need government assistance? Absolutely!
Is it up to us to judge or condemn or embarrass someone else for needing assistance? Mercy, no. Our job is to love.
Some of us are one job loss, one huge medical bill, one crisis away from being in Mrs. Nerger’s shoes.
Rarely do we know the whole story, the real reason why people have to make the choices they make, or the pain that people are living with. We know what we see on the surface and make assumptions and judgments based on what we see.
Regardless of what we might think or assume or even know for a fact, it is always, ALWAYS better to respond with kindness than with sarcasm, bitterness, or hatred. And let me tell you – I am preaching to myself here because I am the Queen Bee of jumping to conclusions, making cynical assumptions, and not responding in a kind way. I am a work in progress and this story convicted me in a big way.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32
There is no such thing as being too kind to anyone. Make kindness your theme for today. Keep an open mind and try to see others through eyes of love first before judging them. This is my goal.