My husband and I go to this one particular restaurant about three times a week (sometimes more). There is this little boy that comes in regularly selling candy. Kendrick has the biggest smile; his teeth look way to big for a nine-year-old boy. His spiffy shirt always looks a little small like it may have been handed down from his older brother. He always buttons it up all the way to his neck. He looks like a politician. He talks like a politician too. One night Kendrick came in the restaurant with a huge box of candy to sell. He walked up to our booth and said, “Hi, my name is Kendrick.”
“Well, our names are Mike and Tracy Carpenter, nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you.” He smiled. “I am selling candy to pay for a trip to Disneyland.”
“Really?” I continued, “Is your church around here?
“How many boxes of candy do you have?”
“I have twelve left. I started with twenty.”
“How much are they?”
“If you buy one they are three dollars and if you buy two I can give them to you for five dollars.”
“Wow, how many do you need to sell today?”
“As many as possible. When we sell our whole box we get to go to Disneyland.”
“Well, Kendrick I will take the whole box.”
“What?” He exclaimed. “Thank you so much!” Now, about every month or so, I see Kendrick with his big smile walking in with full-size hopes and his eyes twinkling. Sure enough every month I buy the whole box but not without catching up and hearing all about his latest adventures.
I get so much joy from it.
Yes, Kendrick could be lying and hustling me.
Working as a pastor puts me smack dab in the middle of lots of circumstances which force me to choose compassion, trust, or at times protection. My heart for the lost and my spiritual gift of mercy sometimes collide and bring unwanted collisions in my life. Over the years many well-meaning friends have told me to throw my walls up sky high and place better boundaries in my life. I know they love and want to protect me. They don’t want to see others take advantage of my heart or hurt me. After being wounded in the past by others and contemplating this deeply I have learned to constantly check to make sure I do have healthy borders in place to protect my personal space, my time with God, and pastoral counseling time. The challenge for me is to figure out how to move forward with healthy borders but not with walls between myself and God and/or walls between others and myself. I think often times it is effortless to become defensive and cynical. It takes effort to open ourselves up, love others well, and trust after betrayal.