“The card didn’t go through,” the cashier said, after I attempted to pay for my groceries.
I inserted my credit card into the reader once more.
I sighed heavily, baffled by why my card wasn’t working.
I don’t struggle financially.
My payments are on time.
I was annoyed.
After a failed third attempt, I used a different card.
I left the store still annoyed and embarrassed.
I hated the idea of people thinking I couldn’t afford those groceries — that I was deemed unfit by the credit card company to pay in such a manner.
But, as I drove away, I felt something deeper.
Not the shame of feeling misjudged for my economic status,
But the shame at myself for allowing myself to think so negatively of those who are less fortunate that the mere idea that others would perceive me in the same light made me so angry.
I like to believe I am a compassionate person.
I support many causes.
I try to give back in my community and beyond.
And, yet, I am still part of a society which teaches us to put so much worth and value in one’s economic standing.
From a young age, we are inundated with the notion that those who work the hardest will be rewarded, and that those who are less fortunate than we are simply didn’t try hard enough.
We are conditioned to believe:
Poor equals lazy.
Poor equals stupid.
As if there aren’t plenty of rich, lazy people roaming the earth.
But, thinking negatively of those who have less makes it easier to write them off.
It makes it easier for people like me to feel better about ourselves.
But, we all know the truth.
How much any of us has doesn’t make any of us a better human being.
Living in a huge house doesn’t make us any kinder.
Having a designer wardrobe doesn’t make us any more empathetic.
Driving a nice car doesn’t make our actions any greater.
Going on expensive trips doesn’t make our souls any more fulfilled.
Our stuff doesn’t make us better.
In this time of year when it is easy to focus on being grateful for the material things, I am going to remember that things I hold in my hands are nothing compared to what I hold in my heart.
I will encourage my children to think of others this season, and do my best to model acts of kindness.
I will pause before judging others, whose situations I do not know, and even better, try to take the time to learn more about them.
And, I will allow myself room for growth, and forgiveness.
A version of this post originally appeared on the Maybe I’ll Shower Today Facebook page.