Who am I? Really?

matthew25

AGMA’s at my new favorite place to write in Chicago.

It’s a lovely little French bistro that, having been to France quite often myself, is very authentic.  And they have a lovely shaded outdoor patio with wifi that is perfect for virus dodging and blogging.

I was all set to write my normal, slightly witty, Erma Bombeckesque post with a few pointed shots as the Traitor in Chief woven into the story.  And with the RNC wrapping up yesterday, the possibilities for pointed shots are kind of endless.

But that all changed.

Sitting at my bistro table, eating my huge Parsian sammy and drinking my mocha with an extra shot, a Latina woman approached me.  And she came a little too close.  I asked her to social distance herself.

Little did I know exactly how socially distanced we really were.

She asked me for some money.   She explained that she had 4 kids and her rent was going up.  Could I help her?

And kind hearted, generous AGMA reached into her purse and gave her $2.

Two dollars.

This from a woman who just spent $54 on 3 masks.  But they are really cool masks.  And part of the proceeds go to some charity that I can’t recall.   So I felt pretty good about that.

How self-deceiving.

$2 from a woman who professes to be a follower of Christ who taught that all that we have comes from God (Luke 12:22-26).  And about how to whom much has been given, much will be required (Luke 12:48).

Gulp.

And then there’s the story of the sheep and the goats.  This is a gut punch one.  Even Hubs, who is an agnostic, knows this one.  It’s the one AGMA is pretty sure the so called “Christians” who support The Great Orange Bonespur have never read.

Matthew 25:31-46.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brother and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”

The above was just a snippet of the whole passage.  Read to the end to find out what’s in store for the evangelical MAGA crowd…

But maybe not just the evangelical MAGA crowd.

AGMA and Hubs are not wealthy in the way we generally think of wealth here in the US.  But compared to the rest of the world, we are loaded.

$2

After I gave her the $2, she again talked about her 4 children.  Then she asked if she could have part of my sandwich.

And then a most horrible thing happened.

AGMA morphed into a MAGA-ite.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have had 4 kids if you can’t feed them”

I didn’t say it out loud (I thank God for that!), but I thought it.  And that’s just as bad.

(FOR CRYING OUT LOUD AGMA, THERE’S A PANDEMIC HAPPENING AND MILLIONS HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS!  WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?? THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU??)

I told her no, she couldn’t have part of my huge sandwich.  The sandwich I was only 1/3 of the way done eating.  The sandwich I really didn’t need to eat the rest of because I have gained so much weight over the past 6 months.

I wouldn’t share my f*cking sandwich with her.

And she just stood there looking at me, then walked away.

After a few minutes of being defensive with myself and trying to justify what I did, AGMA felt ashamed.  Actually, ashamed doesn’t really begin to describe it.

Deplorable.

I have no reason for why I did what I did.  No excuse.

I’ve felt for a long time now that I’m an imposter.  I talk and write a good game, but I am really no better than those I criticize so brutally for their lack of compassion and generosity of material goods and spirit.

I’m all for giving to the poor.  As long as I don’t have to sacrifice too much.  As long as I am comfortable.  As long as I have $54 to spend on cute masks.  And I don’t have to share my sandwich.

I’m all in on BLM protests and protests against white supremacy.  Let’s take down those Confederate statues and other symbols of oppression.  Let’s protest against the anti-LGBT, anti-choice and anti-immigrant movements.  That is, as long as I don’t have to take any risks or the protests don’t come to my neighborhood.

There is a huge disconnect between who I think I am and who I really am.

There’s the AGMA of my imagination…  Magnamous, generous, empathetic, brave.

And then there’s the me I witnessed today and suspected was there for a while – judgmental, greedy, suspicious, afraid.

I know that a lot of you have no religious affiliation and I get that.  I also get if if you think what I am about to say is nonsense and magical thinking.

But reflecting back to the silent moments between us, after I told this woman she couldn’t have part of my sandwich, and the way she looked at me with sadness in her eyes, I felt as if God was looking at me.  And right through me.

It was the look I used to give my kids when they did something that was beneath who I knew they were.  It was the look that said, “You screwed up today, but I still love you more than anything else.  And I know you can do better because you are a good person and better than what you’ve just done.”

I can’t think of a more important time for us to be our best selves.  To live up to who we think we are.  To quote an overused, but a pertinent to our times phrase, to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

I pray that this woman finds financial relief and food security for herself and her children.  That she comes in contact with people who have the resources and will to help her.  People who walk the walk.  People who show mercy.

In the meantime, AGMA is going to try to reboot.

And try to figure out who I am.

Really.

 

 

33 thoughts on “Who am I? Really?

  1. AGMA, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over this. There is no way to know if what this woman was telling you is true. Yes, people are suffering because of the Talking Yam in the (now defiled) White House. Perhaps she does have 4 kids and her rent is going up. But I doubt hitting people up for a few bucks here and there in a cafe and guilting you by asking for part of your sandwich would make much of a dent in that. If I sound cynical, it’s because I have an estranged step-daughter who is homeless pretty much by choice and has scammed just about everyone in our family at one time or another. She was even featured in a newspaper article by a sympathetic reporter who fell for her completely false tale of woe. Your heart was in the right place, but donating instead to organizations that can actually make a difference for people like her is probably, in the long run, the kinder thing to do.

    Liked by 5 people

    • I’m sorry about your step-daughter. That has to be a big strain on the family. Yikes!

      AGMA is also a bit cynical. Having lived in Atlanta (that has a huge homeless population) for 14 years, I’m used to being hit up for $$ on the street and even in my car. Hubs is more compassionate than I am as far as that’s concerned – if he has a $5 bill, he will give it to the guy standing in the middle of the intersection with a “please help me” sign. Like you, I know there are organizations that can help and I do donate to those. But in the case of this woman, when I pondered what happened later, I felt that she was the real deal. I was sitting at the last table on the patio and she had to walk past everybody else there to get to me. Not sure why she singled me out – maybe it was a divine test (that I failed miserably.) And she skedaddled pretty fast after I turned her sandwich request down. I think she has been run out of places like that before.

      I’ve volunteered over the years at a women’s homeless shelter and also giving out lunches to the homeless in downtown Atlanta, so I know there are those who would try to take advantage of people’s kindheartedness. Maybe 20%. From what I’ve personally observed, the other 80% are authentic.

      I had a pastor once who was not a very good pastor in terms of church leadership. He was not what you would have called dynamic at all. But he was a very kind, compassionate man. I will never forget what he told me when some suggested that some people took advantage of his generous spirit… He said he’d rather err on the side of compassion and mercy even though he risked being thought of as a fool. Personally, I think he was a very wise man!

      Liked by 1 person

      • AGMA, the situation is now in the past. Gee, I though I was the guilt trip queen. Please don’t beat yourself up. Ask God to give you another chance with her. You never know when you could see her again. There is a question that occurred to me. Where are her children? I never give out money. But I did give a hamburger to a young man hitchhiking the opposite direction. You also could keep a care package in your carry bag to give someone next time if food is not available to buy for someone next time. A care bag with tooth brush, tooth paste, soap,shampoo, wash cloth and towel. You gave a lit of your time as you said serving and helping in the past. That’s more than many have done. We have all been a bit sensitive, frustrated, bored and angry about the hurting and anger that’s going on. Maybe you were just tired and grumpy. That was one time. I think you can allow yourself one unscheduled free pass. God forgave you, now it’s your turn to forgive yourself. Hugs!!!

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    • Every day’s a school day right? I really hate it sometimes when I’m face with the reality of myself…. It’s like in Star Wars when Luke is training with Yoda, and he (Luke) strikes down Vadar, then takes Vadar’s helmet off and sees his own (Luke’s) face. What a great metaphor for understanding who the enemy can be!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi AGMA.
    Here I am sitting in our garden room. The log burner is lit and a gale rages outside. Rain lashes against the window and in the dark the oak trees bend to the buffeting winds.
    Ziggy Stardust plays on the stereo…..
    It’s easy and in someways fashionable to beat oneself up over the inequalities of the world.
    A fundamental matter, that is frequently passed over and ignored in these times, is that of responsibility.
    Yes, we all have “rights” but with these “rights” comes responsibilities and sadly so often people and society, fail to face up to these responsibilities. The choice to have children is one of the most fundamentally responsible decisions that a human can make….and before you do it you’d better be damn sure you can face up to those responsibilities!
    My daughter was 40 this year.
    She is an independent free-spirit, but has long ago realised that her lifestyle does not allow the indulgence of procreation, it’s a responsibility that she does not wish to take on. I respect that. I respect it so much; as much as I love her.
    Sometimes to say, “No” is the hardest, but honest and straight thing to do!
    Don’t beat yourself up.
    Dookes

    Liked by 1 person

    • How did you fare through the storm? Sounds like you were all cozy and safe!

      I understand what you are saying about rights vs responsibility, and don’t disagree in general. In an ideal world, people understand the responsibilities of having children and shouldn’t have them if they can’t take care of them.

      But I also understand, based on observations during my 66+ years, that the world is far from ideal and life happens. Sometimes harshly and brutally. I volunteered at a women’s homeless shelter back in the early 2000’s and “life happened” to many of them. I won’t go into details, but some of it wasn’t very pretty to hear about.

      I recognize that I’ve lived a life of (get ready for a word that often sets the MAGA crowd off…) great privilege. My national origin, the color of my skin, my education, my religion, all have given me an immense advantage over people who are not like me. Please don’t get me wrong…I’ve worked hard in my life. But I worked hard following a path that had very few real obstacles on it. There are many, many people out there who have not been nearly as fortunate due to their skin color, religion, etc, and have had to face nothing BUT obstacles. Truly 2 steps forward and 3 steps back.

      And now there is a pandemic on top of it all.

      There was a poem written in 1895 by an American poet named Mary Lathrap titled Judge Softly. I especially like these lines:

      “Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
      And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
      We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
      In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.”

      That’s why the MAGA people call us liberal snowflakes!

      So yeah – I could have given her 1/2 of my sandwich. Hell, I should have bought her her own! Let the beatings continue…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I admire your honesty, AGMA, and your self-reflection. Beating yourself up isn’t necessary or productive. I’m reminded of Maya Angelou’s wise words: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I think that’s what it means to be our best self.

    Liked by 5 people

    • That Maya Angelou was one wise women! I just love her writings! And thanks for trying to make me feel better…

      But the thing is that I really DID already know better. I am not some naive 25 year old who has never been out of the bubble of very sheltered life in the suburbs who’s never seen a homeless person or somebody who needed a meal. I’ve seen lots people in need; I know many more people are in great need especially now with some 20 million jobs vanished.

      So I REALLY need to learn this lesson of learning how to open my closed fists and spirit, and if I need to beat myself up a bit to do it, it’s worth it to me! Thanks again!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. AGMA, you’re not alone. We’ve all done that. I’ve done that. And felt like crap afterwards. Like kicking myself. Like you, I promised to do better next time. Sometimes I do. Sigh! I think it’s called “being human.” Now all we have to do is be “humane.”

    Liked by 4 people

  5. This is a wonderfully honest post, AGMA. I know you feel bad but something good came out of your interaction with the woman. It prompted you into a period of deep self reflection and humility. I think you should look at it as a gift from God and forgive yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you. I do believe that it was a gift of sorts. I believe that when you ask with an honest heart with the intention to love more sincerely, that it will be given to you. I’ve asked to be more generous and kind and merciful and understanding, and my prayers are being answered. I’ve been taken to school! I guess that’s what it means to “be careful what you wish for”!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. AGMA, you did the right thing and gave her some money. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but just because she told you her problem doesn’t mean you are now responsible for fixing it. You were kind. As a hopefully funny aside, I was in Key West years ago and a panhandler asked me for a quarter. I dug out the quarter and as I handed it to him, he smiled and said, now how about $10 bucks. I laughed so hard because he “got” me. I gave him $5 instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that story!! Hubs took a guy who asked for something to eat to the food court of his building, and was going to buy him McDonalds, but he said he’s rather have Chinese instead! Ha! As I have always told my children, you will never get a yes unless you ask! I think he ended up with McDonalds so in his case it didn’t work (but he wouldn’t have known unless he asked!)

      I really don’t think I could have fixed her problems, but I could have at least make sure somebody’s stomach wasn’t growling. Especially since I have been somewhat gluttonous since March (and gained the COVID 19!). I think the encounter was also to remind me about that as well… 🙂

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  7. Wow! Powerful story. It’s really hard not to be judgemental of others – something I’m guilty of myself. Your post was a reminder that self-assessment is necessary. Sometimes it happens organically and sometimes it’s forced.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your wise words Nadine. We really walk a fine line since we are supposed to be as innocent as doves and as wise as foxes. At the same time. The danger is that the innocence can morph into enabling and the wisdom into cynicism. I believe that’s what community is for – to help keep us on the narrow path.

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    • That is such an amazing compliment – thank you! I’m humbled by it especially since it was a post that exposed some of the “muck” in my soul. And I’m afraid the been there, done that, felt the regrew and prayed is a cycle that I will repeat until the day I die. But I guess that’s better to being blind to the need in the world right? We have far to much of that these days…

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  8. Thanks for digging deep into yourself and being so honest. These are hard times when half a sandwich is a gift worth giving. Moments like these remind me to give to the City Mission or Women’s Refuge, which calms my conscience In a mechanical way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy heck… “These are hard times when half a sandwich is a gift worth giving.” What a powerful statement! That kind of sums up why I was so disgusted with myself. It wasn’t a trip to the grocery store – it was a freaking half of a sandwich. Times ARE hard for so very many. I am so incredibly blessed not to be any any sort of economic distress right now. “To whom much is given, much will be required.” I think I may have failed the test, but I understand that there may be a retest! 🙂 And donating to organizations who help the disadvantaged/disenfranchised (that have high ratings for honesty and integrity – NOT the Trump “charity”) is a WONDERFUL way to cast your break on the water (no matter how mechanical you may feel it is…) Thanks for your heartfelt comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. AGMA, I totally get what you were thinking, and what you later thought. When we’re put on the spot, as indeed you were, our reactions are honest to how we feel at that very moment. But a moment’s thought isn’t indicative of who we are in totality. You were interrupted and approached by someone who wasn’t giving you the courtesy of any possibility of reflection. So it’s your later thoughts that matter more here. And they reflect the total person that you are.

    Ironically, I had a similar experience just this past week when I was in downtown Jacksonville (you know, that place Trump jettisoned when the pressure got too great?). A woman pushing another woman in a wheelchair came up to me and asked for some money. I said I was sorry and kept walking. Ten minutes later I loathed myself and vowed to make a contribution to a local food bank that I’ve supported in the past (I contributed online as soon as I got home). I choose to believe these later actions reflect the total person that I am too. We’re not perfect, though we do strive to be.

    That you’ve put all of this so eloquently in your blog, shows you for the good person that you are. – Marty

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I so relate to this. I too am not “wealthy” by American standards, but I have all that I need and then some. Since March I have been giving plentifully — at least I think it’s plentifully — to food banks. But a few weeks ago an earnest, non-threatening young Hispanic guy was rummaging through a trash bin in the park and then asked me for money when I walked by. I said I didn’t have any. He spoke no English and communicated his need by touching his belly and his mouth and pointing to my two-year old grandson and showing me three fingers as if to say he has three small children himself. I walked by and he said “Gracias, señora.” A few steps on I realized that I felt like an absolutely awful person. I could have given him some money. He was clearly not an addict or a bum, just an unfortunate, desperate, probably undocumented New Yorker. I’m jaded because there are so many addicted, aggressive, unpleasant beggars on the streets these days. But that wasn’t his case.I have felt guilt about him for weeks now. It is easy to feel self-righteous when donating online, harder to be a good person confronting an actual alive being in the flesh. I need to do better too.

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