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March 22, 2007

Today, I ate my leftover stuffed cabbage all by myself. I didn’t share my lunch with anyone.

Today, I failed.

My friend Maria stopped by the church unexpectedly around noon today, with her new boyfriend. They are moving in together, if they can scrape up the deposit for the apartment.

I met Maria through the church. She used to come in to help her mother quilt on Thursdays, but spent most of her time visiting with me in the church office. She helped with office work, helped watch my son, even stayed over at my house a few times.

When she went to her senior prom, I volunteered to do her hair and makeup, and made a gift of the cosmetics.

When Maria graduated high school, she had a career all lined up. She was a certified nurse assistant, and had secured a well-paying, health-insurance-providing job at a local nursing home. Things looked good for Maria.

Then she met a man, and followed him around the country. She was fired from her job. Her upright, Chrisitian parents didn’t approve, so she moved out.

She’s spent the last year living in squalor, subsisting on food donations and soup kitchen meals, wearing clothes gleaned from other people’s trashcans.

When she and her boyfriend showed up, I was glad to see them. They were filthy, and I’d just put Tom down for a nap, but I invited them in. We chatted. Then her boyfriend said that he was going to have to pawn the gold necklace Maria had bought him two days ago for his birthday, because they had no food and hadn’t eaten today.

“You haven’t eaten all day?” I asked. (I can’t even imagine no food all day.)

“Well, we haven’t been eating very well lately,” Maria admitted. She said she’s been passing out a lot, but she doesn’t know why.

My lunch – uneaten – was in a bag on the counter behind me. I thought about giving it to them, but I didn’t.

I looked at Maria with her greasy hair and filthy nails and heard the words of Jesus in my head:

Whatsoever you do unto the least of my people, you have done unto me.

And I did nothing.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Heth permalink
    March 22, 2007 3:05 pm

    Oh Goslyn, I too have failed many, many times. Recently an aquaintence of mine had just broken up with her live in boyfriend and was trying to figure out how to handle the situation. She stood on my front step and asked me what I thought. She even asked me if I knew of a book or anything that would have some answers. Know what I said? Nothing. The Bible? That would have been a good book to tell her about. Anyway, just wanted you to know you are not alone in your failure. Maybe there is still a way you can help Maria. I’m sure He will show you.

  2. mopsy permalink
    March 22, 2007 4:36 pm

    Don’t give up on Maria and don’t give up on yourself. All of us have been faced with a *Moment* like that—and all of us have let God (and ourselves) down in our lives. You aren’t alone.

    I suspect the next time you are presented with a choice to help or not help, you will help. God knows your heart and He is forgiving.

    It isn’t too late.

  3. Kathryn permalink
    March 22, 2007 9:49 pm

    It’s so hard to be on all the time. I don’t think there’s a one of us out there who isn’t haunted by moments when we failed to do the exct right thing. You invited them in. You probably gave her some much needed friendship.

    Sometimes it sucks being imperfect but the success comes in you noticing you could have done more. You will next time.

  4. Judy permalink
    March 22, 2007 10:20 pm

    I need to learn to respond on my feet.

    I tend to (ha! tend to?!) need time to think things to death before I act.

    You may have just offered her a ‘taste’ of what she could have.

    Some people (i have been that person, although in a different sense) need to be hungry for a long time before they realize there are different choices they could be making.

    And, it isn’t EVER a failure if you learn something from it.

    But I understand your sadness.

  5. Jess permalink
    March 23, 2007 10:47 am

    It is hard to feel disappointed in yourself. But next time an opportunity for generosity and love comes up, will you remember this feeling and choose differently? “Failures” like this can teach us so much.

  6. Carrie permalink
    March 23, 2007 11:24 am

    I hate that type of situation. I’ve found myself there so many times, caught in the moment of decision, unsure which conflicting emotion inside me is the voice of God, telling me what to do.

    I hope your friend can figure things out soon. I think watching a friend make destructive life choices is one of the hardest things to do. You just want to rescue them, but when they dont want to be rescued, it’s so difficult. Keep praying.

  7. Stuff permalink
    March 25, 2007 4:18 pm

    How many times I read your blog and see myself! I could give a number of examples, but I don’t know if that would actually help. I love you, GOd loves you, and I’m sure Maria loves you. There is no sin too great for God to forgive!

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