December 7 – Humble Pie
A few Decembers ago, I found myself in an interesting situation.
One of my four children participates in speech therapy for a delay. When we first started, she was testing a year behind her age group. After just nine months of therapy, she had grown tremendously, testing just months shy of her goals.
When we first began the visits, our therapist promptly told us about what they call the “Medical Loophole.” Children receiving services can qualify for financial assistance, regardless of their caretakers’ salaries. We were also under the impression that our copay for each visit was just $15. Being the stubborn person that I am, I shrugged off the advice to seek aid, and thought, “We can handle that.” I didn’t want to “take from the system” if we could manage. Meanwhile, we were a family of six (one in diapers), living paycheck to paycheck on a single income. It can be so stressful for my husband at times. Any little help, in hindsight, would have been a relief for him.
Six months into her visits, with momentum building and our therapist encouraging us to add a pre-school readiness class to our itinerary, we received a letter. The letter was actually a bill for a mind-blowing amount of money. Apparently, our copayment was not the $15 that I had been faithfully paying each week, but rather, it was a whopping $50 per visit. So, in my ignorance, I had been accumulating a substantial debt for our family at an exponential rate.
All that to say, all of a sudden, the Loophole wasn’t just a “help,” it was a necessity. After forgetting for weeks, I applied online and was directed to submit some additional paperwork in person at the local Welfare Department. I put it off and put it off. Why was I dragging my feet? The answer was simple – my procrastination was pride.
Finally, on the very last day of the deadline, I picked up my older two daughters at school, while my mother watched the younger ones, and I headed reluctantly into town.
I had never been there before, so at first, I went to the wrong side of town, paid for a parking meter that I didn’t need, and walked the street with my kids in the frigid air. After realizing my mistake, we got back in the car and found the right location. Flustered and cold (because none of us were wearing our coats, even though it was freezing), we entered the office and took a number. We were quickly attended to, but there was a problem – it was the final day of the deadline, and our application was already denied. Probably aware of my distress, the woman behind the counter told us to take a seat, and she left the room.
I’m a germophobe, so the three of us huddled in the corner instead. As we waited, a straight-faced security guard looked at me and said sternly, “Don’t go anywhere when you’re finished.” I nodded and said, “Ok,” completely confused by his directive.
After only a few minutes, the woman returned and said that our caseworker agreed to look at our forms, and she handed me a card with some contact information written on it. I thanked her as genuinely as I could, and looked over at the guard. He motioned with his finger to follow him, and we did. He led us into a back room with tables lined in boxes.
“What sizes are your girls?”
“For coats. What sizes do they wear? I’ve got coats for them.”
My brain went into a tailspin. Coats? We weren’t wearing any. All of us had on cardigans on this cold afternoon.
I wanted to tell him that the girls’ coats were in the car. I wanted him to know that we weren’t in need. I wanted to tell him that I was able to give them a coat and to save them for someone else.
And I couldn’t.
I couldn’t say any of it.
The Lord, in that moment, handed me a warm slice of Humble Pie.
All of those months, I had been denying help, and there we were, standing in the Welfare Office, receiving coats from “Operation Warm.” It was as low as my prideful self could go – to be seen as a mother who couldn’t afford to clothe her babies appropriately for the winter… And to think, there are so many parents out there who, because of circumstances beyond their control, can’t clothe themselves or their children appropriately. How it must break their hearts. How it must eat at their souls. One of our deepest desires as parents is to care for our babies, and care for them well.
So, I took my slice of Humble Pie, and I gulped it down. I smiled at the man, thanked him as genuinely as I could, and I left him with a, “God bless you, sir.”
“We take care of our kids,” he replied.
My daughter wore her new coat to school the next day, and I so badly did not want her to. I was quickly reminded of that pie. Did I need another serving?
No, Lord, I understand.
Father, thank you for the blessings in our lives. Thank you for the men and women out there who are clothing families in need. Thank you for bold and unexpected reminders to live with thankful hearts.
What’s your Humble Pie?
We all struggle with some area in our lives. There’s a place in each of us, I’m sure, that has become an, “I’ve got this, but thanks” spot. Maybe it’s keeping up with a task at work? Maybe you’re desperately treading water at home? Maybe you’re juggling schooling, and parenting, and a job? Maybe it’s a secret issue – a sin issue – and you’re too afraid to confide in someone? Maybe you need help financially, but you feel ashamed admitting it? Maybe it’s as simple as thinking, “Cooking for Christmas Eve overwhelms me, and I wish I could lighten the load.” Big or small, I believe that we all have a slice of pie set aside for us on Heaven’s pantry shelf.
Keep your eyes open and your spirit listening this holiday season. It’s a beautiful thing to give, but if you need to be the one on the receiving end, that’s a good thing, too. Remember, where there is a receiver, there is a giver, and when we receive – be it money, a gift, a coat, or even grace – the Giver is blessed, just as we are, if not more so.
Klover House Christmas:
A friend in my daughter’s class is participating in a local coat drive. Since we have been blessed with coats this year, today, I will gather our extra coats and coats that the children have outgrown to give to her tomorrow.
If you have a Model Cleaners in your area, please consider taking your old coats to them this week. The company has launched a “Coats for Kids” Coat Drive, and you can give them your coats in as-is condition. They will take them off of your hands and dry-clean the coats at no cost to you. Then, they handle delivering the coats to the Salvation Army. The deadline this year is December 9th, but if you miss the deadline, please consider dropping your coats off at the Salvation Army, as well.
Also, if your child or a child you know is in need of a warm coat this winter, please consider laying your pride aside, if it is holding you back, and visit your local Welfare Office. These are kind, caring people, and I am an example of someone who is not “in the system,” and yet, a compassionate soul saw a need and took action to meet it. There are coats there for your children. Don’t let shame hold you back from a Christmas blessing.
God bless you, friends. Love you all! xo