Wednesday, November 23, 2011

First Nativity Fast Fail

I'm buying a Thanksgiving turkey, fixin's and wine.
The "trailer park-ish" woman in front of me at the grocery store check out buys a pre-made Thanksgiving dinner, ice cream, some fruit juices and two packs of cigarettes. She sends the bag boy back because he didn't get "100's". 
She tries to pay with a credit card and it is maxed. She tries to run the card three times.  She says to the cashier "it's all I got", and tears up. She has to leave her basket. 
I could have paid for her groceries. I thought of paying for them. 
But I didn't want to pay for a pre-made Thanksgiving dinner and cigarettes. So I said nothing and watched her walk out the door empty handed.
I hope God doesn't treat me the same way.

19 comments:

J.D. said...

If you've got smoke 'em. If you don't wait on Santa.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for telling us this. I've done worse. I still feel shame when I remember a time that I was behind a man in line at Target who had nearly $100 worth of ordinary household stuff, including diapers. His English wasn't so good and there was something about the method of payment he tried to use - a benefits check or something - and it wasn't acceptable. I got the impression that there wasn't really a question of him trying to pull anything over on anyone, but it was just not something the store could accept. I could easily have paid his bill, but, and I still don't know why, except for I guess fear of doing something "weird," I froze and didn't. I let the poor guy, who was trying to buy things for a baby, leave without his cart full of stuff. These are the kinds of memories that make me hate myself sometimes.

But maybe they're for teaching us to man up and break through the "expected behavior" wall next time we have a chance. Happy Thanksgiving, Steve.

Fr. Christian Mathis said...

We've all been there. Rest assured though, God will provide another chance.

elizabeth said...

I've been there too. At least we can pray for this woman. Lord have mercy on us all.

Anonymous said...

'Behold the works of God,
For who can put in order him
Whom God made crooked?'
Ecclesiastes 7:13
Steve, I don't think you did anything wrong. People make choices. It's not up to us to correct them. I'm not trying to be insensitive, but I don't think it does any good to beat ourselves up for not helping out every last person. We have responsibilities to our families too.
Daphne

rusmeister said...

I agree with Anonymous, and have, numerous times, been caught unprepared to help someone, and let the opportunity slip by.

That there were cigarettes is not important, I think. But I am VERY guilty of letting opportunities pass by. We're still here, though, we still have a chance to learn and help someone else.

I've always found value in your podcasts. If you ever have anything you think worth saying, I'm ready to listen!

James the Thickheaded said...

I like the small font on this... as though the wee small voice inside that says, "Hmmmm" while we another just says, "Ooops... I meant to... honest... but I didn't."

My guess when we do these things is that the problem isn't that we don't help - though that's a symptom and regrettable, but that the disease is that we hold on tightly to what we have or what think we value or what we're thinking in our trance we're in at the time. And so we miss a shot at the Kingdom in our midst and two people are left wandering rather than the reverse.

Like the phrase I saw the other day on these things, "The rising to awareness...is a gift."

Anonymous (the first one) said...

Oh, and BTW, it took you nine whole days to commit your *first* fail of the Nativity fast season? That's half-sainted, at least, even if the fail in question was a full fail! :-)

s-p said...

Anon #1, maybe I should have titled the post more honestly: "The first Nativity Fast fail I feel guilty about...". Sigh.

Mr. Poet said...

There are plenty of ministries that would provide pre-made and make-it-yourself fixings for her for Thanksgiving. It's one of the few times of year where the poor (and sometimes not even the poor, since many ministries don't ask questions) can get a feast for free.

Jack said...

And what stopped you from buying a boxed Thanksgiving dinner for her, without the cigarettes?

It might have fed her for a week!

I live at a level very close to that poor woman, myself.

Anonymous said...

I live on the prayer that God will not treat me the way I often treat others. Hang in there and thanks to everyone here for the comments.

David Dickens said...

Guilt is a poor man's repentance, but in a pinch it'll do; although I don't know much about sitting on Christ' judgment seat, even for yourself. He might get miffed you shifted the stuffing in the pillows.

I'm just saying, he's always telling me to get out of his chair.

Don't worry about stuff like the cigs. My wife once told me, even drug addicts eventually need to eat. I'm with her.

Grandma Sue said...

You read a different version of a prayer that's included in many morning prayers. It was an addendum to a podcast you did while staying in the Bishop's quarters somewhere. Would you be able to post it? I liked it better than other renderings. Love the podcasts! Thanks.

Grandma Sue said...

And on this topic, as well as God providing other opportunities for us to do the right thing, I pray for the people I failed, that God will meet their needs. It could be something else was supposed to happen for them that day.

s-p said...

Sorry G'ma Sue I don't have the original of the prayer. I like that version a lot too.

iceyicons said...

I love the title;that had me laughing before I even read the article. Your grocery scene sounds just like SE TX. I am going to discuss this post with my kids and see what they think, and maybe get back to you on it. It is tricky. If I sense a person is iffy, in the sense of methy, I am very cautious of getting involved with them directly. I have really gotten in over my head before trying to help addicts and their families on an individual basis, and need to protect my family, first. I have also walked several miles in the charity case shoes. I was so grateful one time when someone gave my daughter and I $20.

s-p said...

iceyicons, Welcome to the blog-that-isn't-much-of-a-blog-lately-since-I-got-a-job. There's a lot of past posts on alms. If you are talking to your kids, check out "Steve the Builder: Homeless, Hungry, God Bless" podcast. (Google it.) Food for thought, no pun intended. :)

s-p said...

iceyicons, That is one thing I really do miss about regular blogging is the chat with the readers. I, too, think I have some of the coolest commenters on the orthoblogosphere. I keep thinking I'm going to get back to blogging. I'm missing it more and more.