I live in a country where I am considered rich because I am a foreigner. What this means is that I must have a lot of money I can give to anyone who needs it. Beggars on the street or in the bazaar will follow me and ask me for money. At times it can be a little disconcerting. Here comes the dilemma. I can not give money on the street even if I want to. If I give money to one person, I would soon be swarmed by others wanting money also. It is not a matter of even deciding if the person needs it or not. It is just not safe. So even though I know this is the right decision and our family tries to give to the poor in other ways, I still have mixed feelings every time I am approached by a beggar when I am out. This is just part of the mixed feelings that are a part of my life here.
Another area where I have mixed feelings is with my cleaning lady or even having a cleaning lady. For a reasonable price for me and a fair wage for her, I have an Afghan lady who comes and cleans for me three times a week for 3 to 4 hours. She helps us manage the pile of dishes and ironing that seem to accumulate here. She keeps our bathrooms and floors clean and the dust to a minimum. We get a clean house and for me a lot less stress of keeping up with it all. For her, she has a job that helps provide for her family. It does get a little awkward in the summer when I am home all day. What do I do when she is here cleaning? Is it okay for me to work on my computer or enjoy my book? Should I be working too? Then there is the relationship between us. I am her employer but I also enjoy talking to her and getting to know her. What kind of balance is best? Then to top it all off, this past week she asked for a raise. She has a right to do this and I also have a right to say no but it always gives me mixed feelings. I want to help her out. I could probably afford it. But… But the story keeps changing of why she should get a raise. But her salary is still on the higher end and to give more could cause problems for others. So I know no is right for now but I still feel guilty. This is part of the mixed feelings that are a part of my life here.
It was with my cleaning lady that I had a good reminder last week. I was frustrated by our discussion and her not giving me all the information up front. I was a little more confrontative than normal and needed to be. I could feel myself starting to draw away from her and not wanting to be too friendly. That is when God gently reminded me that it was okay for me to say no but not okay for me to not continue to love on her. So I went back down the stairs before she left and gave her a more proper goodbye. She smiled as she left. Today after working together on cleaning my living room walls and ceiling from the dirt and soot of winter, we enjoyed a nice lunch together talking and resting from our labor. I am thankful for the reminder that it is okay to set boundaries but to not let that get in the way of loving on the people God sends my way each day. TJ