**Before you read this, please understand that I am not speaking about people I know personally. I am not judging those who receive welfare payments or food stamps either. This post is about my frustrations with a whole society that rewards poor behavior and frowns upon those who actually try to earn their own way in this temporary and fallen world. Increasingly, we are becoming a society that punishes the hard workers by forcing them to provide for those who refuse to so much as look for a job. I do realize that many are out of work honestly and try very hard to do what they can to provide for their families. I applaud those folks for their efforts and my prayer is that God continue to supply their every need.**
A couple of days ago I went to town hoping to get to some really good garage sales because my younger children have precious little to wear this fall and winter. With finances at a low and my husband's paycheck soon to take a huge cut (always does at this time and stays that way until summer), I searched high and low for clothing at decent prices. All I found was A. Junk or B. Clothing in the wrong sizes or too expensive.
I had a bright idea - go to the clothing exchange where you can get clothes for free.
When I got there I had to wait for it to open but I thought, "I can wait. I really need to get the kids some clothes." So I waited about 1/2 hour.
While waiting I watched people go to the door and sit on the steps. Everyone was there to get clothes except for one woman. She owns a resale shop and was there only to speak to the workers for a moment. I talked to her for some time.
The other people, mainly women, wore trashy, dirty clothes and talked with filthy speech between huge drags on cigarettes.
I was so glad when the doors finally opened and I could go inside. Once in the building I had to step around bag after bag of clothing yet to be put out for the public. The building was PACKED with clothes and no room to put it all.
An older woman who was working there took me aside the moment I was completely inside. She asked, "Are you new here?"
"I've been here one other time," I replied.
"Well, this place is only for those who need clothes, not for those who have jobs!" she practically spit at me. She glared at me as if I were evil.
I was so flustered I didn't know what to say. Finally, I turned to my son, Evan, and muttered as we left the place, "I don't have a job but, oh well."
I left with my dignity intact.
This is a place for anyone who is having a struggle buying new clothes to be able to at least put something on their children's backs. You don't have to prove your income or anything like that. Without disclosing our personal finances I will say that for our family size, we are well below the national guidelines for poverty.
Why did this woman treat me as she did?
I was dressed in nice clothing which, by the way, I spent precious little on. The jeans cost me $2 at Project Help in Indiana. The shirt was free from a friend. The shoes were free. Evan was dressed in clothing that he purchased with money he had saved for a year. They were Wal-Mart mark-downs. We were neat and clean and did not reek of dirt and cigarettes. We were actually discriminated against because we take care of ourselves and put our best feet forward.
In a case such as this, I think it is best that we keep our dignity. I am reminded of the apostle Paul who stated in 1 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV), "But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me.I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast."
Paul was talking about his rights as a messenger of the Gospel. He should have been earning his living by preaching, but he chose to make tents as his living all the while preaching. He didn't want to hear tongues wag as to how he earned money.
Sometimes it's best not to beg for material things. I don't think it's ever good to become dependent on someone else for things.
I will continue to earn money as I can and purchase school books and clothing with my earnings as I always do. God will provide - He always has and He always will. And I will continue to look my best when I'm out in public.
I'm certain the Proverbs 31 Woman did not go out to the marketplace in her pajama bottoms and smoking expensive tobacco products while she begged for free clothes.