Hello, I wasn’t sure which forum this would fall under, but I figured this was a good start.
I have a very uncomfortable situation, and could really use some advice or prayer = \ My husband and I try to live humbly and generously, but I have to admit that there are times I feel people take advantage of that. We don't have "a lot" but God has blessed us with enough to provide a home for our three young children, and to care for them well beyond anything we deserve. By most american standards I guess we'd be considered middle class? We try to live under our means (only drive one car, have a house with just enough space for our family, donate our time and finances to the church etc..), but our home sits right between a couple of older houses that are rented out, and we've had a variety of neigbors through the years. Most often, the homes next to us are rented to families or single/living together couples that have either had a difficult time growing up, or are in difficult life situations.
About a year ago, a young girl (about 16 or 17) moved in next door with a woman in her thirties who was a single mom with a 13ish year old son. The girl stopped by my house one evening and asked if I had any “work” for her, like raking the leaves. She said she “was in trouble with the police” and needed to pay fines. I was eager for a chance to get to know her and possibly by her relationship with my family be a witness to her. I told her we didn’t have much to offer money wise, but that she was always welcome to come over if she needed to talk about anything. My husband and I decided to find about 40 dollars in the budget so we could help her the next weekend when she asked to rake leaves.
She stopped over again, and this time told me a little more about herself. Her mother/father pretty much out of the picture, and the woman she lived with was so nice because she actually took care of her. (things like buying birth control for her "if she became sexually active) … I didn’t comment on this point at the time because I really didn’t have a good enough relationship with the girl yet to start explaining theological points…and honestly I was just kind of speechless.
She stopped by again asking to shovel snow, and said she only had 50 dollars left on her fines for "the bad things she did before she shaped up" ( I never asked questions, I didn't want to scare her away)...So for 5 minutes worth of work (we have a small sidewalk) we gave her 40 of the 50 dollars she owed. She's been back now a few times asking to mow grass, and we've given her 20..but today I finally said something
When she came to the door, she asked to mow the grass. “Your husband said I could mow the grass and get 20 dollars” she said…I told her that I’m not sure what he said to her but that I wanted to be honest. I said we’ve been happy to help her, and want to continue being generous but that honestly I’m starting to feel taken advantage of. I don’t mean to upset you, but I don’t feel like we can continue paying you to work on our yard. Thank you for always offering to mow for us, and I’m sorry.
Was I off base? I want to be generous with my neigbor and I really want to help her situation…but I feel that the best way is for her to come and TALK to us, not to keep coming asking for money. Granted, she always earns it…mowing our tiny 8 by 8 patch of grass >< But I feel that 20 dollars is too much, and I really don’t want to keep paying her for something we normally do ourselves anyway. My original offer to her last year was that we don’t have much, but she’s always welcome to come talk to me if she needs…and she has NEVER come to confide in me. I feel like our neigbors think we’re the “rich” people in the neigborhood and that is just not true. We are one of the only nuclear families in the neigborhood, but certainly not wealthy = \
What should I do? I hope when my husband comes home he isn’t disapproving that I turned her down. He is even more generous than I, and also wants to do the right thing.
Thanks for reading this long post…maybe I just needed to vent…but it’s really weighing on my heart. This poor girl really is in some kind of trouble, and life has dealt her a hard plate…I guess I thought I could be there for her and maybe plant a seed of hope that her future wouldn’t have to be the same = \