Sometimes It Just Sucks

Sorry for being a bit MIA.
I was just digesting what happened to me, and I have to say, I’m still a bit annoyed about the whole ordeal.

We had someone come in our campus after a mission project. He said he was in a bad shape and just needed some assistance.
I got called to meet him at church.
We talked a bit. One of our members who first met him had bought him a meal at McDonalds.
He just needed a place to stay at night. You know, looking back, my gut instincts told me to just let this person go. But compassion won over my gut instinct. He said, he just needed a night. I remember asking, “what’s one more night going to do?” And he said that it’ll get him a warm shower and a bed to rethink his strategy.
So I took him to a local motel and got him a room for the night.

I also gave him information about a local Temple in our area that helps people in his situation.
I gave him my number and told him to call me if he decides to give the Temple a try, and I’d take him there.
He thanked me.
The day passed.

And that’s when the calls and texts wouldn’t stop.
He’d text me asking me if I could hook him up for one more night.
I would text him back telling him, I couldn’t do that, but if he wanted to head towards the Temple, I’d give him a ride.
No answer.
Next day, repeat. His texts getting more dramatic. But I told him that if he wanted to go to the Temple, I’d take him there. But another night in the motel was out of the question.

I also found out that the member that helped him originally, he continued to contact the member and asking the member to help him pay for some meals, which the member kindly did. One day, the guy called up the member and asked for a little money for dinner. The member explained that he will be there to help the guy, but he hadn’t seen his family over the weekend and was about to have a family meal. After the meal, the member explained, he’ll head over to where the guys was to buy a meal.
The guy texted the member about every 15 minutes during dinner time.
Finally, when the member sent his family over to the shopping center, the guy was already eating dinner and was agitated and annoyed that it took our church member that long to get to the shopping center.

I didn’t mind him contact me over and over and over. But I was really annoyed that he was contacting our church member constantly.

He stopped by the church a couple of times in the past two weeks. But I wasn’t there.
He stopped by this morning.
And I simply said, “We can’t help you. I can take you to the Temple if you want. But other than that, there’s not much we can help you with.”
And he went on and on. The more people that stopped the office, the louder and more dramatic his story got.
I felt that I was getting angry. But, there was nothing we could for this guy.
And, he walked away angry and annoyed.
But what could I do?
This is just a nutshell of what happened. I was annoyed of how annoyed I was. At him. It almost came to the point where I felt like I’d have to kick him out of church before he starts harassing more people. But there’s no way my heart would allow me. To kick someone out of the church property? No. That would be too much for me.

But he left. And I’ll probably hear from him again in about a week.
My offer will stand, in that I’ll take him to the local Temple.
It just sucks that sometimes things’ll have to get to this point.
Someone said, “you’ve done all you could.” And I wanted to say, “you know… I think that’s the problem with many people. We do the bare minimum and we say to ourselves, ‘we’ve done all we could.'”
I’m rambling on, which means that I still haven’t digested it all.
It’s not that I’m not willing to help the dude.
I’d be willing to help him out in a non-monetary way, and in something that’ll help him get to the next step of his journey.

I wish I was eloquent and can think of the words to say that wonderfully describes all that I feel. But, all I got is “this just sucks.” And it does. Mightily.

5 thoughts on “Sometimes It Just Sucks

  1. As a Psychiatric Nurse, I deal with this kind of person quite often. I hate to sound so negative, but some feel this sense of “entitlement”, by living off of the government, and the kindess of others, when they have no intention of ever caring for themselves. You can never give enough. The person will always ask for more. It’s hard to know where to draw the line. It’s not right to just initially ignore them, but at some point we need to say “no:. Sometimes I think that might be the best thing to do, and maybe the person will take responsibility for his own life. However, it is more likely, that he will move on to the next generous heart. I’m sorry you are so frustrated. Just know that you did do your best, and were taken advantage of. It’s also probably not the best idea to give people your personal cell phone number, or last name or address, because you might have a visitor at your doorstep! I’ve been trying to figure out how to handle this type of situation for 20 years. I pray about it, and God has helped me to set some boundaries, but it’s still hard.

  2. Not to be insensitive to guys needs or what you are feeling, Paul did warn us about those that would abuse the charitable system of the church. Paul specifically says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10b “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

    I personally think Paul is addressing those who would take advantage of the church’s charity. I think as a church we should be charitable, but not to the point of enabling people to just skate through life. Which is one of my biggest issues with social justice oriented theology. Because at some point you have to admit you have to change… and at least face the correct direction.

  3. Very sad and frustrating experience, Pastor Joe. Unfortunately, it is one that has happened many times so all of us charitable people. Some do not want to be helped, and it is so frustrating to those of us who know that what they really need is Christ in their lives. We can keep this man in prayer along with all those in the same situation. God sees them too, and is reaching out, just as He nudged you to do. Thank you for showing this man compassion!

  4. I served a church located on the only non-toll East/West highway crossing western New York. Needless to say, I had numerous people stop at my office to ask for help. Mostly, I thought I was taken advantage of. But every now and then one of those strange God-incidences happened that made it all worthwhile. I needed to protect our staff, my wife, and myself, and I did everything possible to ensure our security. Still, I found it important to help – and also to know when to say “no.” I didn’t always get it right and, like you, I got angry. Still, it was worth the effort.

  5. it does suck. there are sometimes when what is needed is help to fill a gap. sometimes where what is needed is a life change to address the cause for the gap. if the person does not want to address the situation causing them distress, to accept the help that is real help, not just a band-aid, then we can’t force them to do that. we can’t fix them. it is hard to find that balance between compassion and accountability. the truth is that in a culture of poverty, if someone has become accustomed to day to day living and desperation, they see life as a series of opportunities and learn skills of manipulation for survival. as long as the cow is giving milk, they will milk it because they need milk. only if the cow dries up will they think of another way to survive. all we can do is offer them an alternative way to live and it is up to them to take the offer.

    i think you handled it well, joe, but you are grieving a lost sheep. i had a woman who called for money, food, etc. eventually i said no to the money but she would still call to talk through things occasionally and i felt better about offering that relationship and empowering her to address her situation. i wish all of these kind of situations could end that way but they don’t. either way, it is very draining.

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