Thursday, July 26, 2012

Government Handout?

I'm hesitant to talk about this subject. There is much debate on it, for one, and two, there is a lot of shame and embarrassment. But I'm also passionate about it, which is why I'm setting aside my pride and talking about it.

Food stamps.

You guys all know we've struggled financially this past year, but I haven't talked about the fact that we got on food stamps in February. It's not something you shout to the world - hey, we're so poor we can't afford to eat! Did you know every time that card is pulled out at the grocery store I feel shame? I feel judged. I know the cashier is looking at this young couple, baby in tow, wondering why in the world they need food stamps. There's been a couple of times the card wouldn't swipe and we'd hold the line up until a manager could come over, and the cashier would loudly announce, Yeah, their food stamp card isn't working. I'd never wanted to be invisible so bad as in those moments.

I suppose when you just look at us from the outside, we don't look poor. In fact, we've been tremendously blessed by the gifts of others. But I guess strangers don't know if what you own is a gift or something you purchased. Guess what? I own an iPhone. You know why? It was refurbished for $10 and my parents pay for it. Rob doesn't have a cell phone, we share that one. People in the grocery store don't know that.

Actually, we have zero debt. We are very frugal, we do without a lot of things. Did you know that just yesterday we finally purchased a high chair for Josiah? We knew it was something we could live without until he grew out of his bumbo seat. We own a $20 piece of junk couch. But it's somewhere to sit. In conclusion, we've simply learned to be content with what we have, we don't spend money we don't have (aka credit cards), and this was random tangent. Back on topic...

On Facebook I've recently seen some of those sarcastic comics - you know, the one with a sketch drawing of a person and some random quote - geared towards people on food stamps. I try to not to take offense at them, but it's hard. I KNOW there are plenty of people out there who should NOT be on food stamps. The goverment makes it so easy to get on the program, and does nothing to empower people to take care of themselves. Plus, I see the junk some of these people buy in the stores and the way they waste that money. There is a lot of crap going on with the food stamps program, I get it, but it's not that way for everyone. It was necessary for us when I only brought home $700 a month and couldn't get a second job.

It's especially disheartening when I see Christians being the judgmental ones on stuff like this. You really have no idea a person's situation until you talk to them. Maybe that girl you see in the store on her iPhone using her food stamps card is desperately hiding behind a mask of shame and trying to do anything to escape the reality of her situation.

It's time to show some compassion rather than judgement. That's all I'm saying. And if you read through this entire post, many kudos to you. Spread the word.

-Stephanie

1 comment:

Hannah Lynne said...

Steph, I have so much respect for you for sharing this. I know it wasn't easy to be vulnerable and open regarding such a controversial subject. But I am completely on board with you. In this and many more issues, I think Christians and others definitely need to be the ones handing out compassion instead of judgement.