It Was Never About the Money

I pulled over in the grocery store parking lot and dug through my purse. I was troubled to see I would have to choose between a five or fifty dollar bill.

Kansas City Public LibraryI didn’t usually carry that kind of money. Why couldn’t there have been a ten? It would take me a long while to realize this was never about the money. I agonized over the decision.

I rolled down my window. He stood there holding his sign. Cars passed. It took him a moment to notice me.

I held out the bill. He hurried over. When he got closer, his eyes honed in on what I extended. How much was it? Would it be enough? Would it be what he needed? I too wanted something that I couldn’t see. I felt my own desperation in his expression.


Something changed when I saw myself in him, when I saw myself as him. Simultaneously, I felt the presence of God as if we, all three, were interchangeable–a unity, a lack of separation. It was transcendent.

It was a demonstration that God provides. He provided for this man through me, and would continue through a series of others, but what was provided?

The man took what I offered and said,

Thank you for giving.

When I saw him two weeks later, he looked different.

  • His hair was cut.
  • He was clean shaven.
  • He stood tall.
  • He was radiant.
  • He smiled.

I didn’t see him again.

The True Gift

I wondered about that exchange for months. This is what I saw, and it wasn’t about the money.

When I saw through the dejected person in front of me and noticed what we shared, what was holy, worthy and enduring reflected back to me.

There is such a longing in me (in you too?) to know who I am; the me beyond self-doubt, the me beyond better or worse, the me who sees no fault in my neighbor because I see no fault in myself. I didn’t recognize this for months, but this was the me I saw by seeing the same in him.

We do need groceries, a haircut, and a comfortable place to sleep. We also need to remember who we are, to whom we belong and how to see. In this purse, giving is receiving. Giving makes more, and it’s never about the money.

image credit: Outside the Kansas City Public Library ©2013 Marie LaForce

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Marie LaForce About Marie LaForce

Writer | Photographer | Explorer |Dreamer | Intentional Disciple of Christ


  1. Wow, Marie – I love this story and the way you tell it. Really profound and moving. Thank you – for living it as well as sharing it through your writing.

    • Marie LaForce Marie LaForce says:

      Melissa, thanks for letting me know the story moved you. It’s a gift to know the effect the writing of this story has on you, that the effort to write it was worth your time to read it. Big gift to me. Thanks.

  2. Marie, I read this post last week, and it inspired me to look with very different eyes at a person asking for money. Over the weekend me and my daughter went to a craft store to pick up some things for Halloween, and there he was, by the road with a sign. That he lost his job, and needs to pay rent and feed his kids. I felt that connection you are talking about. Human to human. I always get very skeptical in these situations, and there was no skepticism in me. We helped, we talked with my girl. It was easy.

    Thank you. Best of luck with spreading your soulful messages!

    • Marie LaForce Marie LaForce says:

      Elena, thanks for sharing the impact this post had for you and the story of what followed for you and your daughter. “no skepticism in me. We helped, we talked with my girl. It was easy.” That sounds like a mutually enjoyable experience. And thank you for the well wishes.

  3. Such a beautiful story and nice clear message! I relate, keep going <3

    • Marie LaForce Marie LaForce says:

      Thanks, Charlotte. Let’s both keep going. I am curious to know the message you heard. I sometimes get something completely different. Something I’ve been thinking about clicks. It might go in a different direction.

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