While mostly a ghost of his past, the fears that cause these beggar tendencies still surface from time to time like I talked about here. We’ve learned a few coping mechanisms to help him feel more secure and not feel the need to ask strangers for candy or money.
So he’s mostly ok with not being a beggar anymore.
But then there’s the reality that other people in our world still face desperate circumstances that cause them to do whatever it takes to survive.
Like that pan handler on the busy street corner we drive past on a regular basis. The one I never stop to give a handout to.
The other afternoon little Max and I were out cruising around town in our little white minivan when we pulled up to that intersection. The one our resident beggar hangs out on, and Max asked me why he was there and what the words on his sign meant.
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. Was this a time to learn the meaning behind responsible compassion? For him to hear the truth that this man didn’t need my money as much as he needed a job that helped him feel like he was contributing to the good of mankind?
As much as I wanted to explain the truth that I need to careful about who I financially assist I don’t want him to think that there are some people who aren’t worth helping. I also want to fully respect his social history and the fact that he can relate to that man’s desperation. I didn't want him to be ashamed of his past behavior, when we know he was simply trying to survive. That it wasn’t his fault his first set of caregivers didn’t provide for his basic needs.
And as I'm digging through my thoughts on how to approach this "teachable moment" for my son the reality hits me that perhaps God arranged this exchange to be a teachable moment for me. What if God gave my son the social history He did because He wants Max to understand the desperation of others, with resources to do something about it. That He wants my Max to be generous to a fault so that others don’t have to face the desperation that he’s known. And in doing so push my boundaries of acceptable levels of charity.
Sweet Jesus thank you for bringing a representative of the world’s desperation into my house. I want to give with reckless abandon in my best effort to curb other people’s acts of desperation. Show me the best way to use my resources. Amen.