I remember thinking, “That may have been totally un-Christ-like.”
My hubby and two little ones and I had waited in line for over 20 minutes for ice cream at a local 4th of July festival. Right as we reached the front of the line, a woman popped out of nowhere, speaking fast. She explained her mother, a diabetic, needed something quick, if she gave me the money, could I buy something for her when it was my turn at the window? I totally paused. I replied, “I’m not sure, I need to ask my husband’s opinion.” I felt very much the protective mother grizzly bear. I also felt oddly defensive, like I didn’t want to make this decision alone, while the kids were under my watch. My husband gave me the green light, so I said I would help her.
She was appreciative and just told me to “pick something.” I used to be very eager to please, eager to pounce on any and all problems, whether they were truly mine or not. Not only would the ‘old me’ had never hesitated (though the old me didn’t have kids), I would have bought her three or four kinds to make sure that was enough and in case her mom wanted variety. I’ve changed, and am less afraid to ask for clarification. “I’m sorry, I explained, I going to need you to tell me exactly what to buy, because if your mom is about to be sick and I pick the wrong thing for her and she gets sicker, then I would be the one that made her sicker, so I’m going to need detail.”
“Ice-cream sandwich” the woman replied, kind of taken back this conversation was taking so long. She may have thought I was a total jerk. I’ve got to be brutally honest: the word “liability” kept flashing through my mind. Sure, I want to help, but after I got past the “you’re going to hurt my kids” fear, I moved on to the “you may sue me” fear. Perhaps a decade and a half of working in the corporate sphere has made me hypersensitive to liability and who assumes it? Realistically, in every worldly situation, there is liability and an enthusiastic attorney in close proximity. I am called to live in the world, but not of the world, but should I also not live with what I have learned from the world?
Afterward, I thought about the Good Samaritan and how he and I differed in our reactions. Yes, I did proceed with procuring the ice cream sandwich, and I gave the women her change when she gave me too much money. Clearly she was a neighbor and I should love her, but was it wrong to question through the loving process?
I think sometimes questions in Christianity get a bad rep. But God never intended for us to blindly go and do without individual thought and choice. I read that I should be like the Good Samaritan, I should go and do likewise. Was I selfish in my initial reaction or shrewd? I ponder this.
I couldn’t help but wonder if it would have been different for the Good Samaritan had he been traveling with a 4 year old and 1 year old. I think I may have reacted differently had it just been me. And, was he so well connected in his village that, even when he tried to do good, if there were negative repercussions, he would be covered?
I was tempted to feel incredibly conflicted. And then I took a deep breath, and enjoyed my ice cream. I was given an opportunity to help, and in the end, did so with a clear conscious. And some lady, somewhere, prayerfully maintained an okay blood sugar level, and enjoyed an ice cream sandwich without a 20 minute wait.