About 4 years ago she came to me in despair, asking for a "loan" if I could just spare it. She laid the guilt trip on me, too, because I am comfortable financially although not without my share of bills. But I have been blessed never to wonder how I could possibly pay the mortgage/rent. At the time I was married and so had that extra layer of financial support. So I wrote her a check. And not a small one. She assured me it was a "loan" and that when she got on her feet, she'd pay it back. I never expected to see it again.
About a year later she came to me again. Again in despair. Again begging for help. Again I wrote her a check - smaller this time, but still enough for her rent. I was still married and Ex had a cow. I told him it would be the last time.
After the divorce, she came to me again. I said No. I said I had my own difficulties and now I as a single parent and No. She was relentless - showing up at my office, calling me, telling me how outrageous it was and not her fault that she ended up in this situation. She showed up at my church where I was teaching Sunday School under the guise of "I've always wanted to come to your church" but after class she just wanted a check. Her situation was a mess. And so, I rented her a car (she had an accident and totaled hers, her fault, and no collision insurance). Without a car she couldn't work. Without work she couldn't pay the rent. 1 week of rental was all I gave her. And I demanded that we sit down with her bills and her finances and talk about budgeting and how to get her out of her situation. I do have financial training and thought that rather than just write her a check, I could help her with my other skills. She was very angry and didn't want to talk about it. I insisted but we didn't get very far.
OH and by the way, did I hear from her in between? No. Not really. I was busy and didn't care if I'm being totally honest. But it got to the point where if I saw her number pop up (thank GOD for caller ID) or got an email or a voice mail at work, I avoided it.
Last month it started again - she called under the guise of "How are you?" And I laid it on thickly - all the financial struggles, the pay cuts at work, the layoffs, impending college bills, possible home repairs because of the monster storm. On and on. Of course she was really calling for money and I fortunately gave her the impression that I couldn't possibly give her money. Then this week she called again - not intent to leave a message, but texting, calling, urgently tracking me. It wasn't enough for me to tell her I was busy and couldn't talk.
Finally today I called her back when I had 5 minutes - literally 5 minutes between calls - to let her know I had no money for her. And I told her, "The only time you call me is for money. That's a one way relationship that can't continue." Boy did I get the wrath of God thrown at me - she challenged me to "Find that in the Bible." And I said, "Find what - the fact that you only call me when you want something? I don't think that's going to be in the Bible." She said, "All the other people don't accuse me of this" and I said, "Maybe you give them more time and attention than you do me, or maybe they are just afraid to speak the truth." She tried to tell me that "this" was not in my heart. I said, "You don't know what's in my heart or my head so don't try to tell me what is there."
Plus? I'm out of town and going to be out of town until the 12th - how can I write you a check? She had the nerve to tell me I could wire the money to her!!!!
She said I was "pretending to be too busy to talk to her." I said, "WHAT? You don't think I work 60 hours a week, am a single parent, am dealing with my own strife? You don't think I was in a restaurant having Lunch yesterday with my Daughter, taking time out of a hectic travel/college visit when you called? You don't think I was in a Meeting with Big Potential Client today when you texted me? You don't think I'm on a train right now and have a conference call in 5 minutes?!!" The NERVE.
It was hard. This is a person who I don't think is a "bad" or "evil" person. I think she has incredible strings of bad luck. I do think she is a person of Great Faith. I don't know why all these things happen to her. But I did decide that although God does ask us to help each other out, that there comes a time when I get to decide (not her) if I should help her. And somehow helping her hasn't helped her. Once she demanded that I "had" to pay for her Real Estate license so that she could supplement her income. I told her 1) a real estate license is a bad idea right now [about 2 years ago right before the house/mortgage crash] 2)I don't HAVE to provide such things for her - I'm still paying off my own law school debt 3) if she thinks it's such a great idea, get a night job at McDonald's, save the $600 in a month and get the license herself!!
It was hard to tell her No. It was harder to say, "This is a one way friendship and I'm out." It is harder to wonder if perhaps God does expect me to take care of her. I don't know. There is a lot in the Bible about "whatsoever you do for the least of my Brother, that you do unto me." My own family has serious financial struggles but no one has asked me to pay their rent or demanded I buy things for them. Perhaps she is in more serious and desperate straights than they are. But something about this is telling me, "Enough is enough."
Is it Guilt telling me I'm wrong? Or just that I have lived my life as a Pleaser and let people manipulate me? I don't know....
I do know that my own 17 year old Daughter said (yesterday), "Mom this is a 1 way relationship - you need to tell her about the 4 kinds of relationships and tell her that when 1 person is doing all the giving, that's not a healthy relationship." Wow. out of the Mouths of Babes.