Four days into this experiment and I have to confess that I’ve already cheated.
On day two I made a tuna sandwich without Mayo and it was awful. I used some mayo, mustard, and pepper; all of which I hadn’t bought with the food stamps.
I put the sandwich in a baggie. Not on the list.
I put the chips for lunch in another baggie, as well as the broccoli and celery. I put the lunch into a left over plastic bag. That was on the list, but not very durable, especially if I was a construction worker living on food stamps.
I washed the dishes. Dish soap: not on the list.
Washed my hands. Hand soap: not on the list.
Used some paper towels, not on the list.
Toilet paper: not on the list.
I cleaned the sink: cleanser, not on the list.
Brushed my teeth. Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss: not on the list.
Put a load of laundry in. Tide: not on the list.
Blew my nose. Kleeenex: not on the list.
It went on and on. With every daily task I realized that all of these items that I just grab without thinking I could not have bought with my $25.00.
I know that food stamps are supposed to be supplemental to additional income. But I sat down and did the math. If Columbine ever fired me, my house would go into foreclosure while I was finding another job. My wife would divorce me for being a bum. I’d be in an apartment by myself. I’d try to get hired on at Home Depot and might make $10.00/hr hour. My new apartment would cost around 1,000.00 a month. I’d be living right at the poverty level and would qualify for food stamps. I would be buying groceries on this $25.00/week. Where would the cash come for the other items?
You’d see my on a street corner holding a sign, “Will preach for Toilet Paper, Tide and Comet.”
Then last night I cheated in the absolute worse way. By 6:30 I was starving and driving home. My wife called (who thank goodness doesn’t think I’m a bum) and said, “Swing into Qdoba for dinner.” I gulped. Temptation howled at me. I even went in and bought three dinners. When I came home the house was filled with people for a puppy training class. I dodged the craziness and went into the kitchen. I said, “No” and put the burrito bowls in the fridge and started making what I had planned, chicken Chili. I was proud of myself until I started using Fennel, Thyme, Oregano, and Cumin, all not on the list and not at the dollar store.
The puppy class came to an end. One of the class members said, “What smells so good?”
“Holy Crap!” I thought, “What if they want my chili! This has to last until Sunday!”
“Oh, nothing, just making some dog food.”
“That’s pretty good smelling dog food.”
In that moment I realized I was cheating in the worse way. I was playing scarcity. “Hey, I’m making killer chicken chili. Would you like some?”
“No thanks, my husband has dinner waiting at home.”
“Oh thank goodness.” I said.
“What?” she asked?
“Did I say that out loud? I meant thank goodness you’re husband is so thoughtful.”
I almost cheated this morning. I was making breakfast as my daughter was getting ready to leave for school.
“Dad, that smells good! Can you make me some?”
I gulped again. I only have a dozen eggs. I rationed two per day. Plus I was using my potatoes and peppers. Then I thought, “What would I do if I was living in my apartment working at Home Depot and my daughter came to visit me? Would I feed her out of my $25.00?”
“Sure.” I hollered down stairs. She got so busy in the rush to get out the door that she almost didn’t eat the eggs potato’s and peppers. I hollered at her “Make sure you eat (my) YOUR BREAKFAST!”
Each day has been eye opening. I’ve realized we need to expand what we collect at church. We’re trying to feed 30,000 people, which is good. But I’ve realized we need to help 30,000 people have a life. We need to bring in soap, cleansers, toothpaste and toothbrushes, Baggies, Tupperware and lunch boxes. Then to help people have a life we need to bring in movie tickets, gift cards to Yogurt Land, and gift cards to Nails Are Us (if there is such a thing) for when their daughters come to visit.
Probably the most important thing I’ve learned to date is not to cheat. Not so much in using things not on the list. I have to remind myself this isn’t a contest to see who can do it the full week with first place being the Blue Plate Special at the Golden Corral. No, I’ve learned not to cheat on my fundamental mindset; God has given us an abundant life.
Don’t cheat God’s abundance.
Don’t cheat God.