Cabbages and kings.

I have been online reading and blogging for AT LEAST three hours.

Remember dial-up, and the moment you clicked offline? It would tell you something like 01:24:08, and you could know exactly how many seconds of life had been wasted. Then you could follow up with the appropriate amount of guilt. Now, with broadband (we don’t have cable, so we’re allowed this luxury) you have no clue how many hours you’ve been plugged in. It’s a 24-hour party. One big blurry vein where i can stick the needle any time i need it. MMMMMMMM. yeahhh. Cable Modem. mmmmmm.

Yesterday, while I was cleaning out my car in front of our house, I met Tammy. She was walking down the street with an unlit cigarette. I knew exactly what she needed. I had accumulated a couple hundred lighters in my car, so I was ready when she approached me. I heard “How you doin, baby?” and barely after I turned around, i heard the story of a car breaking down, moving to a new city, moving in with an aunt, looking for a job, being shot by a stray bullet, ect., until we reached the inevitable climax of every conversation with a stranger on my street: “Can I have (fill in some random amount of money, like $2.30)”

Unfortunately, I had plenty of lighters, but no money to give Tammy. Instead, I offered her a ride home. She accepted immediately and jumped in the passenger seat of my car. What had I done? I thought. This is not Athens. Tammy can and will probably kill me. I got in the car, buckled up and smiled politely. “Where do you want to go today, Tammy?”

We had a nice drive. She had me all over the ghetto, stopping at different friends along the road to chat and ask for money. Tammy knew too many large, scary men who were on their way to jail (her words, not mine). She told me the details of her life, and by the end of our trip, i agreed to take her to the grocery store. When we finally arrived at her house, she hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, and told me that I had made her day. She told me she loved me, which was strange, that she would call me, and that she was looking forward to going to the grocery and maybe grabbing a beer afterwards. I mumbled out the window that her I loved her, too, which was strange. I do, I guess.

Anway, Tammy has my phone number now. She is going to call today about the grocery trip. Seth told me that I’m not allowed to take her by myself, especially if it involves picking her up somewhere. I might disobey. I am still trying to decide now. She left a bunch of papers in my car. They were information about and an application for the Columbus Drug & Mental Health Clinic.

So many lessons already after Tammy.

1) If your thoughts become obsessive over any good deed you do, you should definitely be doing more good deeds. It was truly amazing to see how quickly my head filled with pride and judgment of those around me. (Hey Giant SUV College Boy….how many people did you give a ride to today?! HA!)

2) For someone who talks about loving “the least of these” so much and bashes everything – especially corporations – that do not, i sure am petrified of them, and reluctant to do anything practical or hands-on to better their situation.

3)”If they weren’t all poor and black and men,” i thought to myself, “I probably wouldn’t be so scared.” In fact, I was completely terrified the entire time by this poor woman and the stereotypes associated with her friends. Way more terrified, i’m almost positive, than Jesus would have been.

4) I have previously ran to the car on the way to church. I will run quicker if i see someone black or male walking down the street. Isn’t there something hypocritical about this?

This whole incident comes after a long prayer a week ago that went a little something like this:
“Lord, I am surrounded by the poor, but I have no way of knowing how to begin helping them. I live a few blocks from some of your most in need, but I am too scared to start something on my own. Put a someone in my lap today. Show me step-by-step how I can help.”

This is not a lie.

I asked more specifically for a family, but I got a Tammy instead, who now has my cell phone number. Please help me. Am I dumb for offering rides to strangers? Am i being fearless, or stupid? Should I pick up Tammy and take her to the store? Is there another way to help her? What is step two, please.

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  • Anonymous

    Chris says:

    First, I have never done what I’m suggesting, so I am a big hypocrite, but here’s what I say: Pick them up! What if they try to steal or kill you? So what? Our inheritance is already waiting. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say al kinds of evil against you because of me” says Jesus.

    I’m not saying be reckless or foolish. I am saying that we have nothing to lose and souls to gain. I am saying that Jesus is our protector and if we die we die, if we live we live.

    There are people mentioned in “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” who dont’ spend money on insurance because they trust in God to take care of them and He has a plan. Wow. I”m sorry if this was dumb. I think we are all bred to be racist and prejudice and that is very hard to overcome, but justice and mercy are more important than race or life or death. I need to eat my words (ie, do what i say).

  • Your Loving Sis

    You are a dumbass……don’t ever trust anyone alone in Columbus, Ohio. White or black….man or woman. You are a small white girl that people will take advantage of. Not trying to be mean, just a loving sister. If you feel the need to do this again, at least call me or someone else to go with you. I’ll have my pepper spray in my pocket and a knife in my boot. Love you sis!

  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Lantern Editor

    I think you have to diiferentiate between what is truly helping this woman. Talking with her about her life and possibly helping her with what might be a drug problem is a great thing and well in line with what we all need to do more of. However, acting as her driver while she visits all of her friends serves no truly helpful purpose and I see as being exploited. Be helpful, kind, and charitable but don’t allow yourself to be used because then you aren’t really serving a charitable purpose. And it’s just a bad idea to be driving alone with strangers in Columbus no matter who you are.

  • Strader

    Sometimes God calls us in to danger. Is it out of the question for God to ask us to die for him? Didn’t he do that for us? I love you Lyndsey and I don’t want you to step into harms way, but I do want you to step into God’s will.

  • Katie Meyer

    Hi Lyndsey. I read this and it always makes me wish I knew you better. Anyway, as someone who has had some Tammys in her life, my advice is to buy the insurance (i.e. pray about and determine some very clear boundaries with all intention of sticking to them) and then be willing to break the terms when necessary. There is a particular danger for us as Christians to feel guilty about the worldly things we have and thus think that any interaction with the poor is spiritually significant. We are supposed to love our neighbor. Period. I find it harder to love my rich neighbors than to love my Tammys. But apart from all this pretentiousness, what a crazy day you had with good ol’ Tammy. I can’t wait to hear more.