Shopping, Smiles, and a Tank of Gas

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A Facebook friend of mine posts weekly shopping stories. I usually giggle at them, hoping that my life will be a bit more adventurous. (In truth, it’s not.) This week, I have a shopping story.

Everything about this shopping story seems to have been arranged by Heavenly Father. I broke my usual pattern and went home after work, because there were some chores I wanted to complete before my husband got home. He arrived home before I could leave to get the groceries, so I invited him to come shopping with me. Generally, I leave work, go shopping, and then go home – it’s much more efficient.

Because my husband was along, we ended up needing to stop at three stores instead of two. At the second store, I noticed a woman with a small girl. I smiled at her, she smiled back, and she left the store. I saw her again at the third store, so I smiled again. That’s when she turned around and asked me for money, claiming to be homeless.

I’m old enough to be a bit on  the jaded side, so I told her (the truth), that my husband has some friends who are pretty connected in dealing with people who are homeless and asked if she’d be willing to talk to him. Her story changed, and she told me she had called the “homeless hotline” and that she had a place to stay if she could get downtown. I pulled out my cell phone to call a friend, because I knew she knew enough people that we could find this woman and her daughter a ride downtown. The story changed again. She had a friend waiting for her, but they needed gas to get her downtown. I told her (again, truthfully) that there were some things I needed to buy and then I would meet up with my husband. If she would wait for us, then we would get her friend some gas.

Yes, just like you, all of my scam radars were screaming at me. My husband didn’t think we’d see her again, and I agreed with him. The only strange part to the story was how guided by the Spirit I felt while I was talking to her. I rarely feel anything that clearly.

As we were preparing to leave the store, both my husband and I agreed that, if she were waiting, we were ok with the possibility that we were being scammed. We had done everything we could to prevent her from being able to take what we could give and use it for items that are harmful (ok, drugs and alcohol) and if she was willing to go this far, we would accept her at her word. It’s not like we are so broke that we’d actually miss the money for a tank of gas.

She was at the exit, and I followed her to her car to tell the driver I’d be walking over to the gas station. As she pumped the gas I was paying for, I felt that I should give her a pass along card that I keep in my purse. If nothing else, she now knows that we helped her because we believe in Christ and try to follow him.

So, what’s the take-away?

Just like Nephi in the Book of Mormon, I have no idea what the outcome of my actions really will be. I won’t know until the eternities. What I do know is that I felt the hand of the Lord throughout the encounter with this woman who is, in the eternal sense, my sister. I acted in faith, and that’s all Heavenly Father asked me to do.

It wasn’t easy – I felt vulnerable. I don’t like being taken advantage of. I would have loved some proof that she was really homeless, but there was no way she could give me any. Even though I felt the Spirit guiding me, I had doubts.

In the end, I relied on the principle that Elder Holland spoke about in April 2016: “them that seeketh so to do.” I sought to help, I took the opportunity to introduce the church into the contact, and I followed the impressions of the Holy Spirit to the best of my ability. From what I understand of the scriptures, that all Heavenly Father needs from any of us to use us to build his kingdom.