How To Love People Who Don’t Have Much

When I was hospitalized after my recent surgery, I found that I got irritated for no good reason. I was easily upset. I got angry when my requests were denied, even though there were legitimate reasons for it. I was annoyed when people brought me things similar to but not exactly what I had asked for.

Now I understand why I felt that way. When you’re sick and bedridden, your choices are drastically reduced. The things you can do, the places you can go, the foods you can eat – they’re all limited. You can’t even move without someone’s help. Because your choices are limited, you get frustrated and angry when even these meager options are denied.

“Don’t come to the kitchen. Just wait and enjoy the food I prepare for you.” Many daughters and daughters-in-law say this to their elderly mothers who enter the kitchen to help. “Let me pay the bill. I’m better off than you.” Many people say this when their friends who are less well off financially try to pay at restaurants. These daughters and friends mean well, but they don’t realize that their well-intentioned words may hurt others.

Have-Nots have few choices. They are limited in terms of what they can do, where they can go, and what they can have. Their limits may stem from a lack of health, money, or education. When their attempts to exercise their limited choices are denied, their pride and their sense of self-worth can be damaged.

Let’s go back to the example of the elderly mother. Mothers by nature want to help their children. But their choices may be limited. They may not have much money. Their level of education is frequently less than that of their children. But cooking is something they’ve done all their lives. When they try to help their children with this one skill they know they still have and are denied the opportunity, they may feel like they’re useless. Men who are economically disadvantaged may feel the same way when they try to return favors they’ve received from their friends by being denied the privilege of paying for meals.

It is a sin to expect an equal share from people who do not have much compared to people who do have much. But it is loving to receive with thankfulness what Have-Nots offer when they genuinely want to do it.

Let us respect the choices of people who do not have much.

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