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When you can’t keep the rules


Some people have the gift. Some don't. Fran does. She runs Manna House, a soup kitchen of sorts. (Well, she and God—she gives God all the credit so God gets all the glory.)

When the poor and homeless come to Manna House, Fran sees the person hiding underneath the need, underneath any scam. She loves. She listens to sob stories then says, “Sure we can help. Let’s see what we have.” Especially when kids are involved. Fran has the gift of mercy.
But others aren't so generous. . . .

I’m a rule-follower from way back. I like to do things right, in order, as they should be. (Even filling out my brackets for March Madness, I struggle with ranking a 9 team over an 8.)

So when the rules at Manna House are one toothbrush, one shampoo, one deodorant per family representative, that’s what I *try* to give out on the Wednesdays I volunteer.

But sometimes I just can’t.

A few Wednesdays ago two people side by side asked for a roll of toilet paper each. But a fellow rule-keeper handing them out got suspicious. Perhaps these two people were in the same family, she thought, in which case they should only get one roll, not two. She questioned the couple, “Aren’t you two together?”

It bothered me.

Even if they were together, there stood two bottoms that would need wiping, two bodies that had already stood in a long line in the cold to get help, so hand over two rolls, woman! (It's one reason I started buying extra toilet paper myself to give away. If somebody asks for tissue, I want to be able to say, “Yes!” even if it’s only for an hour until we run out again.)

I need to remember this lesson:
People are more important than policies. That’s what Jesus teaches me. He chose people over the Sabbath. Relationship over rules. Love over laws.

The only reason we have rules and policies is to better love people, right? But if occasionally those need to be broken to keep the greater law of love, then break them.

And if that means now and again giving away two rolls of toilet paper to two people even in the same family, I think Fran would approve. Because I know Jesus would. May I remember to do likewise. 

* * *

Do you ever struggle with knowing when to break a rule, too?



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