I don’t think there’s anything in this world I find more insulting than being lied to. If you make a mistake, or have a bad past, just come clean and tell me. At least then we have a starting point, something to work with, and can begin pressing forward from there. But if we can’t be honest with each other, the both of us are going to be chasing our tails until I find the truth myself and I give you what’s coming to you. Everyone has their own unique bull crap limit and I think I was about to find mine.
In preparing for the garage sale a day or so later with Turd Muffin still in the hospital for observation, I realized my wife’s sewing machine was missing from our living room. Five years ago when I got it for her, it costed $75 brand new. I didn’t have an idea of how much I was going to ask for it at our yard sale, but I did want to sell it. I called up Collin to ask him where it was. After a while of dodging my question, he finally hinted that since we were going to sell it at the garage sale, he had hid it under his bathroom sink “with the intention of buying it from us”. Maybe he was telling the truth. Why didn’t he just ask first though? Maybe he wasn’t. Maybe they were going to hock it off to split a dinner at Chili’s and not say a thing. Who knows? Either way, I wasn’t keeping him around long enough to see where this strange friendship that never became was headed.
I packed up both of their things the best I could into an old duffel bag of mine, boxed up the sewing machine for them as a booby prize and stacked it all out on our walkway. Then I texted Collin and told him their things were packed for them out on the walkway, and he or Molly had better come get them before someone else does. He tried to act innocent and surprised we weren’t better friends. Soon, Molly came and got their things and left. I got a few harassing calls and texts after that from Collin which I avoided, and that was the last I heard from Collin McGirthy.
Thanks to the time lost in all this drama, which I admittedly invited into my own life, the deadline for our move was upon us and left us with no time for a garage sale. So there was plenty of decent stuff nicely laid out in our garage left behind for the new owners, thieves, or whatever thrift store it ended up in. It was time to pack up that of our things we were actually taking with us on a long interstate summertime voyage that would prove to be very disastrous.
To loosely quote Steve Martin in an old comedy stand up: “I break with thee, I break with thee, and I throw dog poop on your shoes” Collin.
Once in awhile, I still wonder about his story. Where had he really been in life? What brought about his homelessness? How many other people had he already used since he became homeless? Had any abused him? He did claim to have had previous roommates. How is his story unfolding now? Are he and Molly still together? What about her story? These things are officially none of my business whatsoever now that I’ve thrust these people from my life, and second how could I ever know the truth being that most of what Collin ever told me was a lie anyway? They are nonetheless, things I will always wonder about.
Anyhow, my take home after this screwy lesson was that I’m always bumping up against deeper meanings of love and true charity. They must be something I truly struggle with. I realize that I did offer Collin a place to stay out of charity. But once things got ugly, I realized I wasn’t prepared to deal with the consequences of my actions. Kind of like a hairy man I met knocking doors in the South who answered his door butt naked one morning, I was too busy with life to be able to truly help this guy anyway. I learned that love expects no specific outcome of charity given. Love gives out of love. I was a fool for taking in a needy person and expecting him to use the time to get back to work, even if he originally told me that was his intention.
I view the whole scenario as a failure on so many levels:
- A failure to show true charity.
- A failure to tell someone “where the buck walks through the buckwheat” when I needed to, to quote my dad.
- And lastly, A failure to keep my safety and that of my wife in proper perspective.
All that failing considered, I consider it a solid learning experience and gained firsthand knowledge to back up my previous apprehensions about taking a stranger into my home. In the end, I know that I actually got off lucky compared to others who have done the same thing. It scared me to talk about it with my dad afterword and think of other ways this whole experience could have imploded.
Ultra-important to note is that homelessness is a real problem. There are many thousands of people without a place of their own in this country, whatever their reason may be, and they need help in many different ways. Are there swindlers out there? Of course there are! Does that mean we withhold help from the majority of the homeless? No. In the Book of Mormon, there is a great passage which puts forth the proper spirit in which we must address the needs of the less fortunate:
16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.
24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.
25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.
26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.
27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.
There are right ways to help the needy, and there are wrong ways (like my story). There are several things you can actually do to help them along in life, and yet there are things you can do with good intentions, which only place you in danger or enable what is wrong with their lives. To be of assistance in helping others make better choices that I have, I would like to close by sharing a link to a great post covering the subject, and wish you all love and safety in helping the needy.