"Oh no," I say to my husband, "it's them, again!"
This is the third time they've come. An older woman selling tamales with her English-speaking granddaughter along to do the talking. They always stand way back from the door - almost at the end of the walkway. They always look a little awkward, like they are anticipating rejection and half-ready to leave. My thoughts are always the same:
I don't Need tamales.
I don't Like tamales.
Nobody in my family likes tamales.
Their kitchen might not even.....be clean.
And I don't even have any cash.
I'm surprised they've come again. The last time they came to my door I said no, but after I closed the door, I felt so awful about rejecting them that I grabbed $5 and ran after them just to give it to them. They sold tamales in $10 bundles that couldn't be divided, so I thought I'd just give them a little money to sooth my conscience....But in the process I belittled their honest purpose to work hard and sell their goods. They weren't asking for charity....still I didn't learn.
This time I opened the door, determined to be direct and not hem and haw.
"Would you like to buy some Tamales?" they ask.
"No. Thank you. I'm sorry, we don't eat tamales," I say.
They turn and hurry away.
I close the door and go back to my family in our comfortable home. For awhile I try to forget about it and I'm occupied with the busy bedtime routine. But once the house is quiet, the realization hits. I look at my heart, and I start to feel sick.
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45
So for three times now - three times - the first impulse of my heart has been NO.
What kind-of abundance does that reflect??
What in the world was keeping me from saying "yes" writing a check for ten dollars??
I justified my no because I don't need tamales. I don't like them. So it would be a waste of money to buy them - right? Funny how it's so easy to say no to this thing I don't need - and call it "waste" - but my answer is almost always yes to the frivolous extras at Target.
I'm really rarely confronted with real need. Yet three times it came to my front door as this poor woman sought to earn money in an honest but difficult and humbling way of going door-to-door and asking again and again.
Each time they've come I've thought, These ladies aren't selling anything I need.
But all along they were selling the very thing I need the most -
Lessons in compassion.
Praying today for yet another chance. I grieve because I doubt the woman will have the courage to come ask a fourth time. I pray that somehow she will. I feel so discouraged and sickened with myself, but I trust and pray that God would use this terrible failure and work in me a compassionate heart. A heart whose first impulse is love. A generous heart that will see the needs that come my way and not miss the chance again to say yes.