If there was one thing I did well when working in my church front office, it was receiving calls and walk-ins from people who needed money for food, gas bill, rent, or a heat bill. The hard part was telling them we couldn’t help them with their requests. For the record, and as a sign of the times, churches don’t keep cash around.
If someone ended up at our church, it was likely they had already been through every paper-worked system in the community. They were surely told they were liars. They surely had been asked how they got into that position in the first place. They were harshly judged. They had bill collectors threaten them. They surely had to decide whether to pay the heat bill or buy groceries.
And maybe they were lying. Maybe they should have done things differently. But when it all comes down to it, so what? Does solving the mystery of how or why somebody got where they are solve anything? Shouldn’t we just keep it simple? Just help out with no strings of judgment attached?
Don’t forget they’re hungry. Do you know what it feels like to be hungry? Do you know how grumpy you are when you’re hungry for just 20 minutes? Heck, we miss a meal at our house and it’s four Mr. Hydes running around. Imagine missing four meals or two days of food and having no idea where or when you’ll get your next meal.
I made sure to come home from the church office and tell Chris about the calls I had taken and the circumstances. I’d whisper so the kids would do what they always do when they hear whispers—try to listen in. I want them to know that there are people in need.
So, this year, we will sit down for our healthy and humble, traditional Thanksgiving meal. And we’ll have served at our church food pantry throughout the year. We’ll have given away the clothes the children have grown out of so fast that they’re practically brand new. And hopefully I’ve listened to a few people in need, and helped when I could.
Eat well. Be grateful. Hug a lot. And listen. I think we’ll all be better for it.