Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"Lord, Save Us from the Deeds of the Well-Intentioned."

I was watching the news this morning, as I became later and later for work. I usually watch the local news in the mornings these days. I used to watch "Good Morning, America" regularly, but I would get caught up in the segments and would lose track of time. The local news is more repetitive, so it's easier to lose interest and get back to my morning routine (usually).

Today, they were giving away a $25,000 renovation prize to the person with the "Ugliest Kitchen in Houston." The winner was a small Hispanic woman in her fifties. Whenever the correspondent would ask the woman and her grown daughter how it felt to win and how long it had been since they renovated, the daughter always answered for them. It could be that the woman didn't speak English as well. But her eyes spoke volumes.

Imagine it: you're on television for the first time ever, you've won a fabulous prize, and you stand there, as people keep talking about what an ugly and outdated and grimy kitchen you have in your home.

This is a kitchen that has been filled with home-cooked meals for family and friends for decades. And it's being discussed, in front of the woman who more-or-less lived in it for all those years, as an eyesore.

As I sat and watched her silently endure this embarrassment for the sake of new countertops, I grew ashamed and a little angry for her.

Now, of course, you might be saying, "What's the big deal? She's getting a new kitchen, so she should be grateful." And I'm sure she's very grateful.

But how much of our charity, how much of our "good works," come at the expense of shaming those we are helping? How much of our giving to those who have less or who have older things not only ends up in their receiving gifts, but embarrassment to wrap them with?

It's not enough to give things. It's not enough to give money. We have to wrap our small kindnesses with humility and honor, so that the people we bless don't feel ashamed.

The post title is a favorite saying of mine. These days, it seems all the more appropriate, as the deeds of the good-hearted and well-intentioned can sometimes be as destructive or disheartening as the works of wicked men.

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