When Poverty Doesn’t Look Like We Expected: A Call to Love

community Faith

People patiently waited along the wall of the church. Each would receive a box of food donated by the community. The well-dressed gentleman waited his turn. His boots shined and polished, glistened in the sun. His freshly pressed shirt perfectly tucked into his starched pants. His cowboy hat was reminiscent of a Tejano star.


When it was his turn, he walked up to the counter and gave his name and address. His manners were perfect. Grace was laced in his cologne and it caught in the air around our noses.

The women working the counter exchanged a suspicious glance. I’ve seen it before. I used to get the same glance when I paid with my food stamp card at the local grocer. It was familiar – not any less uncomfortable.

The man thanked us for his box of food and walked away with a slight slump in his back. He was strong enough to carry the box upright, but his back told another story. One where he looked to the ground all the way down the block to where he lived. Box of food in hand. Pride broke in half.

The women’s glances became uttered words. They cut like a fishhook, “I bet he doesn’t even need that food. If he could afford those clothes…” And they tapered off into the silence around us.


The women were not aware this man had gone to Goodwill a few days before. He frequented the community thrift stores hoping to find the “right” clothes, so he would always look his best. His wife never allowed him to leave the house without pressing his clothes. Especially, if he was going to church, even if to pick up a box of food. He snagged the boots for a great price – the donor had just dropped them off.

The cowboy hat was his father’s and kept pristine because it was something he cherished.

We’d later find he had lost his son. The charity box of food was to feed his household which had doubled in size overnight. He had to feed his grandchildren.

Poverty doesn’t always look like we want it to – tied into a box, ripping at the seams, salivating at the mouth, eager for a piece of the want.

Often, it’s a desperate need to impress to make the judgment less hard. And sometimes it’s a person standing on our doorstep asking to be seen.

This is a call to love. {Tweet This}

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day and while we’re in the midst of showering our husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, and kids, let’s remember to feed our neighbor.

Feed them with love, food, prayer, and cherished respect.