We have a neighbor that has taken a liking to us. By taking a liking to us I mean she calls, comes over or catches us on the street and asks us for help. Sometimes it is a ride to the grocery store, sometimes it is asking us to buy her a phone card, other days it is asking us for furniture, to buy food she is selling our of her kitchen, etc.
That “etc.” is a funny thing to add because from day to day we never know what it is going to be with her. Initially, we were open and glad to help. Driving her around town to fill our this paper, helping her find clothes at this place and helping her wasn’t a problem. We love Jesus and we’re glad to help.
But lately it is getting somewhat out of hand. I made the mistake of giving her my phone number and since then it has been three texts a day asking for something. Her daily trips to our front door have gone from great opportunities to eye rolls and sighs.
I am weighing through some ideas that keep finding their way to me from Toxic Charity as well as When Helping Hurts. What keeps resurfacing is the difference between creating dependency and empowering people to answer their own needs. Empowering is very important to us as an organization, so much of what we do is targeted at teaching others skills that they can then take to better their lives, families and community. But it is amazing how important that is to us as an organization, but how poorly we’ve modeled that in our first test with our first neighbor.
I don’t know what the right answer is, or even how we empower someone who needs a ride every day to do that on their own. I don’t know what that looks like. But what I do know is what dependence looks like: her on our porch every day.
Any suggestions would be helpful.