As I stood in a parking lot with some colleagues after lunch, a woman walks up to us while holding hands with a young girl, presumably her daughter. The child couldn’t have been more than six years old. In broken English, the woman asked if she could have money so that she could get the child something to eat. The beautiful, dark-haired child then spoke up and said, “Please.”
In the moment, I recall the immediate questions and thoughts that went through my head. Was the woman being honest? Did she really need money for food? Had she fallen on hard times or did she make a living panhandling in parking lots? How’d it feel to consciously use a child as bait? Had she coached the child to play a significant role in hopes of increasing her success rate? Then my thoughts softened. How’d it feel to have to beg for money? How’d it feel to have to beg, knowing it was the ONLY way you would eat your next meal?
I was aware of the fact that my two colleagues wanted NOTHING to do with this. They silently took a couple of steps back after she asked for money. It didn’t matter anyway. I felt that the woman’s eyes were deadlocked on me. I don’t recall her looking at either one of my colleagues.
My thoughts and observations raced through my mind in what felt like an instant. None of it was conscious. My mind was on autopilot. It ascended on the path of discovery, seeking data to make a decision. My mind did this all in the pursuit to answer the question: Should I or should I not give her money?
I had two final thoughts. Don’t judge. Give if you can give.
I gave. I gave her all the cash I had on me. It wasn’t much, but I could live without it. It’s possible that she couldn’t.
Yep, I may have been had. No doubt. This could be her way of life. That thought also made me sad. What kind of life is that? While she could be living high off the hog due to her successful panhandling, I couldn’t imagine that’s what God put her on this earth to do. How unfulfilling a life, I thought. Until I had another thought. Maybe she was a test for me.
I believe our faith is tested all the time. I believe God wants us to be compassionate and loving and to give to the poor. I can’t worry about whether she lied or what she ultimately did with the money. I gave out of the goodness of my heart based upon my ability and what I believed she needed. I only have to worry about my journey on this earth, not anyone else’s.
Imagine you’re standing in a parking lot and a woman with a child comes up to you. She asks you for money so that she can feed her child. What would you do?
Be open to what comes.