This seems to be a slippery slope issue for me. So I might as well write about it.
Today I was confronted to a similar situation I was a few weeks ago. (You can find that story here if you’re not familiar with it or it’s just been a while )I was approached today by a homeless man. He asked if I could spare some change to help him get something to eat.
Now, I struggled with this question. Longer then I wanted to. Longer than I feel most should. It’s a clear cut choice, right? Yes or no. I had just returned from procuring breakfast for myself, a very tasty and very lovingly made bagel. The perfect morsel I needed to start my day off right and be able to tackle the tasks ahead of me.
So when approached again, with someone in need and me being able to fulfill that need I felt I had no other way to react. Guilt rose up in me and I handed over my perfectly packaged breakfast and said, “Here. Enjoy and have a good morning.” I didn’t mind handing off my breakfast. In the moment, and even now as I’m talking about it, the act of giving felt very good.
But here’s the problem. This situation was different than the selfless sacrifice of my white chocolate mocha. This felt strange.
Like many of us who do give in all aspects of life, we run in to what is a very practical concern.
Now what am I going to eat?
Now, sure. I’m not homeless. I’m very capable and there are plenty of venues that I could and did eventually use to achieve more breakfast, but the point remains.
Sometimes, when we give of ourselves, what’s left?
So in that moment while my heart was full, my stomach was empty.
We are taught to give. And even altruism in itself is a scientific algorithm, there is something that to most thinking humans feels very wrong when someone asks you to give, and you say “no” but you more than could have.
I’m not preaching selfishness or selflessness. We have to take care of ourselves. And just like the last time this happened, I hope that this man takes the energy from the food I was able to provide him and do something to better his situation. It’s indeed a nicer day out that it has been in a while. And by no means do I think that my one act of bagel-based kindness is some grand selfless gesture and then expunges me from kindness for the rest of my natural life, I plan to and will continue to do more to improve the situation of the homeless in urban areas. In every way one crusading young lady can.
So I encourage you, fair readership, when you can do in fact give. Always give. We’re called to take care of each other because we’re all connected in this walk together. But, take care of yourself first. Keep enough that assures you can take care of yourself and keep yourself going. Don’t stretch yourself too thin.
You can’t save the world on an empty stomach.