My Maximization Complex
Lenten Evening Prayer
February 28, 2018
As I reflect on these words, I think about my reaction when I see a "homeless" person begging. To be honest, I size them up. I ask myself questions like. "Do you think they will by booze or food?" "Will it help them have a roof over their head or help them get high?"
As I sit at the red light I'll try to answer these questions for myself. Pour over the clothes they are wearing, the way they look, or the words on their sign. Eventually my light turns green, my internal conversation with myself ceases, I drive on following most of the traffic laws and I don't think about that "homeless" person until around that same time the following night when I am stopped at that same red light.
I have a similar reaction when I see an ad on TV for some charity or another. But this time it's "I wonder if an over paid CEO is getting 60 cents of that dollar they are asking for while the poor people they are pretending to help get only 40?" Eventually, again, the commercial ends, my show returns and I don't think about it again for 8-10 minutes, until the next commercial break.
Some of you that know me well may know that I have maximization complex. I like to make sure that whatever I do, I do it with the highest efficiency. If, in hindsight, the most efficient method was not used, then the whole endeavor was a failure. This frequently leads me to situations where I cannot verify that one method is in fact the most efficient and, out of fear of failure, the thing is not done at all. In this case, if I am not solving world hunger, than what is the point? I have anxiety over the fact that what I am doing isn't fixing what I see to be the entire problem.
I think that this is what this passage is getting at. This is me being tightfisted. I am looking at it all wrong. God is not commanding me to solve world hunger, or poverty. In fact, it states "There will always be poor people in the land." Always. No matter what I do. That is not the point. I get so lost in doing God's job of judging other humans that I have overlooked what my role is, and that is to simply give.
Contrary to what my wife says, God gave me a high functioning brain. It can do all kinds of complex reasoning. Because of this, I think that God expects me to not do foolish things like give money to obvious drug addicts or scams. I need to do my due diligence. But I need to remember, if someone pulls one over on me, playing on my emotions to deceive me in one way or another, than that is their sin and not mine.
So the other day I am sitting at the red light and the elderly gentleman with the cute dog named Chloe pulled at my heart strings for the last time. And regardless of if he bought food or drugs with my gift, I know it was the most efficient way I could have given that little bit extra I had that day.
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