Sometimes, kindness is costly


I have an acquaintance who serves as a waitress here in town. I respect her, know the struggles she’s pressed through, and admire her fortitude and diligence. I am compelled to uphold and encourage her. For the sake of this story, let’s just say her name is Michele.

While Robyn and I walked into the restaurant downtown, we were stopped and greeted in the parking lot by a friend we seldom see. She was meeting her husband for supper. I’ll call her Jennifer. We hardly knew her husband, but have had many memorable interactions with Jennifer over the years. We knew of her faith and integrity, and also of their somewhat meager means financially.

As we’re entering the busy restaurant to join a small gathering there, I thought, “we should bless Jennifer and pay for their meal.” I asked Robyn, and my tender-hearted, charitable wife agreed. I smiled, just knowing it’d be fun to provide a special treat for our friend and her husband.

When we finished our dinner, and our waitress Michele brought the bill, I told her I’d like to pay for Jennifer and her husband. I said, “it’s the couple in the booth over there,” as I pointed them out. She said she would take care of it. Mission accomplished. My heart glowed warmly, and my head swelled slightly.

I continued enjoying conversation with our small group, and looked up a few moments later to see Michele talking to a young couple at another of her tables, next to Jennifer’s booth. I also noticed her retrieving that young couple’s bill, which she discreetly delivered to me, saying, “I took care of it for you Dave. They said to thank you and they’re so very happy!”

I gulped, realizing Michele had picked the wrong couple, and now I had the wrong bill. Oops.

I nodded a thank you to Michele, took the bill, and then paused briefly to think about it. I could just let it go, or I could tell Michele of the error, embarrass her, and have her correct the mistake. I realized correcting the mistake would also renege on blessing the couple who was “so very happy,” and decided to bite the bullet and stay the course. I wasn’t angry, but dismayed. My altruistic arrow didn’t hit the target intended. Oh well.

In my mind I placated the decision, thinking the bill for two folks shouldn’t be more than $20 or $25. Considering their modest appearance, I assumed they were probably frugal spenders. You know, maybe they split a meal and just drank water to save money.

Uh, nope.

These people must have been celebrating something special, because they splurged all out. We’re talking appetizers, sodas, two of the best entrees, wine, and desserts. The ticket was $84.73. And that didn’t include the gratuity!

I could have cried or laughed, and so I laughed. Sometimes kindness is costly.

Recently in our community, there has been much bantering about the care of the Homeless. Some citizens have no patience, respect or heart for the needs and concerns of those without a place to reside. The Homeless Community is regarded by some as a blight we need to purge from our borders. I struggle with that mindset.

I’ve not walked a mile in the shoes of persons with no place to lay their heads at night. Have you? Have we ever considered the loneliness and hopelessness that typically accompanies poverty and lack? They didn’t plan this. Yes, some homelessness is by choice, but that’s not typical.

More likely, homelessness is the inadvertent, uninvited consequence of bad upbringing, lack of nurture, and bad choices. Have you ever made a bad choice? Some are mentally disabled, battling addiction, and foundering in despair. Shouldn’t we help? And we must consider the prevalence of horrid abuses many endured. Don’t we care?

I understand why some in our City are bent on pushing against the Homeless and the networks existing to help them. I get it, but it’s incorrect. Helping others comes at a price; requires a sacrifice; incurs some inconvenience.

Jesus said: “Give to the needy”; “blessed are the merciful”; “in everything do to others, what you would have them do to you”; “whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me”; and “for everyone who has been given much, much will be required.” Clearly God wants us to be a people of compassion and charity.

Before you paint all the Homeless with the broad brush of insignificance, please consider the plight of Jesus Himself, who said: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” I’m just sayin’.

Sometimes, kindness is costly.

Dave Hinman

Pastor Emeritus

Dove Church Wilmington

[email protected]

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