This piece was an experiment. I wrote it for a Christian periodical that normally prints articles that are non-fiction, for individual and group contemplation. The subject is pharisees of our day (a sub-subject related to humility), and I thought a more creative piece like this could cover more, or lead to more understanding, anyway, with the limited amount of words allowed; however, it was not accepted and so I decided to post it here. Perhaps I’ll add references/recommended reading later, but suffice it to say now that everything in the piece is based on personal experience, information from nonprofits, published articles, and governmental reports. (The low amount provided for Disability is based on the deduction they normally make for support from other household members or other sources; the starting base amount is around $700.) ______________________________________
Becca fed dollar bills into the laundry’s money changer. While expertly flattening out creases and bent corners, she noticed the “In God We Trust” slogan. “Who is it referring to?” she mumbled. She believed in God—in Jesus—but the savior she knew . . . well, it didn’t seem like her country knew Him. “Clank, clank, clank!” She scooped up the quarters and headed to the washers.
“Trusting God. That means seeking to know Him and please Him, right?” she asked herself. As she loaded the clothes, she searched her mind for examples of the U.S. demonstrating that kind of faith and commitment. Nothing came to mind. “Well, helping the poor and elderly through Medicaid and Medicare was something,” Becca thought.
She thought of her dad. He couldn’t move much without a ton of pain. He hadn’t been able to work for 18 months now and she and her mom were working, paying the medical bills, and looking after her younger brother as best they could. She prayed often to God, asking Him for His mercy and help, but her dad’s attempts at qualifying for disability had all failed.
“We need a lawyer,” her mom said. “Why do we need to pay an attorney for this?” questioned Becca angrily. “We all pay into that fund, my dad has the medical records, and he wouldn’t even receive much per month anyway. It’s like extortion.” Frustrated, she remembered a co-worker’s experience. The co-worker ended up paying an attorney the equivalent of a whole year’s worth of child support, and that for what was in reality a “cookie cutter” divorce.
“What is the point of child support when it goes to an attorney? Out of the kids’ mouths and into a lawyer’s hands. But, ‘In God we Trust’,” Becca mumbled again. Becca heard that attorneys charge about $300 an hour, but her dad’s disability payments might be as low as that per month. She wondered if a year’s worth of disability would actually go to a lawyer.
“Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised . . ? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you . . ?” (James 2:5-6).
“Heavenly Father, what do lawyers pray to you about? Are there any that pray, ‘Show me a needful family I can give my experience to’? There must be someone. Please Lord, direct my mom and dad to that believer.”
Her mood was turning sour, and the noisy washers reminded her of all the time wasted sitting in a laundry mat. Becca thought, too, as she often did, about how the amount they spent at the mat every month could pay for their own machines, if only they had a house. Her and her mom wished so much that they had their own washer and dryer! “Mom,” Becca said earlier, “Right now, I’d much rather have a washer and dryer than a European vacation.” Her mom sighed, “I know.”
Becca emptied the washers, rolled the clothes over to the dryers and filled a couple of them. She sat down and used her phone, reading through her Twitter feed. There were cute animal pictures, verses and such from Christians, political tweets and news. “Hard work made the rich rich, but the poor have rejected personal responsibility,” she read. Becca hotly responded to the unhearing tweeter, “My employer got rich through inheritance, gets richer daily through stocks, and we got poor through illness.”
She closed her phone again. The tweeter is of a group that would say, as a poor person, Becca didn’t deserve a phone (she saw such tweets). But how could she get a job, or take care of bills and daily business, without a phone? One tweeter even complained about the homeless having cars, although for some their car was their only home. Most of these tweeters labeled themselves Christians; they were so eager to judge, implying that they were so much better than the “lowlifes” and scammers they thought they knew so much about. They didn’t know Becca, though, or her dad, or her mom.
Becca made a little over minimum wage at her part-time job, working a continuously varied schedule. It made scheduling her own things—like watching her brother, doing laundry, and job training—very difficult, if not impossible at times. Becca’s mom had cried, and she cried, too, when Becca had to work on Thanksgiving. When Christmas came, it was much the same. Easter came and went . . . the same way. The family was hardly together anymore, even forced to miss every traditional family holiday. Those who complained about the poor didn’t care about this, either; not even a peep from the “Christians.” Instead of compassion or showing concern over employer greed, she was told to simply find another job.
With the prospect of zero family holidays, a feeling of unfairness began to hound Becca. Her incredibly wealthy employers enjoyed their families and the luxury of time itself, while people like her missed family gatherings. And for what? For wages that often don’t even cover the crudest of living expenses. To top it off, her employer televised traditional, family-oriented ads at Christmas time. In her short life, Becca could think of no better living example of a whitewashed tomb than her employer (see Matthew 23:25-28).
“thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind” (Revelation 3:17).
A tinge of bitterness pinched her heart. “Ok, slow down, Becca,” she said to herself. “This world is nothing, yet it’s pulling you down,” she continued. She closed her eyes and thought of Christ. Her shoulders relaxed as she focused on Him. “Beep!” went her phone, and she felt drawn to read the text right away. “Found atty to help us – pro bono! God is good! <3 Mom.” Becca’s heart jumped. “Thank you, Abba!”