Self-Portrait

It’s an eye-opening experience to walk into my four-year-old daughter’s bedroom to find her sitting at her big yellow plastic desk with her head in her hands, lamenting the amount of work she has to do.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, when I find her sitting there looking dejected.

“Daddy,” she says sadly. “I just have so much work to do. I just don’t know how I’m going to get it all done.”

Granted, her “work” consists mostly of cutting random shapes out of construction paper and drawing objects on them. Even so, it gave me a pretty clear glimpse of how she sees me, or at least the image I’m projecting at home.

So, tonight, the three of us went to see Steven Courtney in concert at a local church. He was great. We had a rather humbling experience afterward. Instead of charging admission, the church collected a love offering, giving people an opportunity to support Steven Courtney directly with what they feel is an appropriate amount (sidebar: we used to do this for some gigs in Anonymous Joe, and you never know just how much or little a love offering will bring in; if you want predictability, put it in your rider). We put $11 in the pot, because that’s the all cash we had on us.

This, while rather sad, seeing as how I make a pretty decent living and have in the past month bought a new car and a PowerBook for my wife, yet I rarely have two nickels to rub together, is not the humbling part. On the way, we passed his merchandise table. Grace wanted a video. Jen said, “Sorry, but Mommy and Daddy don’t have any money.” This was true; all of our cash, all $11 of it, went into the love offering.

Now, understand that this is not the church we attend. We were virtual strangers here. Also understand that we’re not particularly dressed up for the occasion. A kind woman must have overheard Jen telling Grace that we didn’t have any money and misunderstood. She turned to us, “Does she want a video?” she asked.

Jen, not really understanding yet what was happening, said, “Yeah, but we don’t have enough money.”

“I can buy her one,” the woman said. “I’m writing a check anyway, so we can just throw it in.”

At this point, I realized that this kind soul thought we were hurting for money, which we definitely aren’t, we just never have any cash on hand. We’re credit people. We politely declined, but it struck me how gracious this woman was. She didn’t know us, had never seen us, but within two seconds of learning (even mistakenly) that we were in need, she offered to help.

Wow. I wish I were more like that.

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