Latter-day Saint Life

The Irony of Spare Change


“Excuse me. Can you spare any change?”

We’ve all heard those words as we’ve hurried along the sidewalk or walked through a doorway. The voice of a beggar always causes a response. Some of us keep moving and pretend we didn’t hear. Others of us immediately reach into our pockets in search of what we have to give to the hand in need. And there are those of us who have programmed our automated response system to automatically respond with a polite, “I’m sorry. I don’t have any cash on me.” In short, no.

The funny thing about spare change is that it really is often unwanted. We check out of the store, and when the cashier goes to give us our pennies, we reply, “Keep the change.” Spare change in the form of coins is heavy; it weighs our pockets down. We would much rather have thin, neat bills, which can be folded and slid into our wallets. Bills are so much easier to carry than change.

Yes, loose change can be burdensome, yet when the beggar asks for it, it is sometimes not given freely. The term beggar is so full of negative connotations. Some of us have parents like the ones who snatch you up before you go into an event and say, “Don’t go up in there beggin’ for food like I didn’t just feed you at home.” Nobody wants to be called a beggar or be accused of begging.

In the book of Mosiah, in the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin gathered all the people together to school them on a few things. He talked to them about Jesus, repentance, and forgiveness. He basically gave them a mega-church sermon long before TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, or Oprah and her Life Class were even a twinkle in their daddy’s eye. During his sermon King Benjamin dropped this bit of knowledge: “For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?” (Mosiah 4:19).

You know somebody somewhere was sitting there listening to King Benjamin and saying, “I know he’s not talking to me. I have never begged for anything from anybody a day in my life!” And if way back, back, back in the day was anything like back in our day, then somebody replied, “I beg your pardon? I might be mistaken, but it sho looked like you were doing a whole lot of beggin’ when you asked homegirl to go out with you and she had to tell you no several times.” Whether we want to admit it or not, the reality is that we are all beggars, and like the panhandler, we too are begging for change.

Just as with spare change, we often find making change in our lives to be a heavy and cumbersome burden; we do not give it so freely. When our lives are begging for change, we may respond with the same options we give the person on the street corner. Some of us dig deep and immediately search for changes within ourselves. Others ignore the need for changes, and yes, some of us respond with, “I’m sorry. I can’t spare the time for change right now.” In short, no.

Unlike with money, our spiritual finances always have the budget to allow us to make some change. So why, when we can afford it, do we deny ourselves, the beggar, the change?

Hallelujah Holla Back,
Sista Beehive and Sista Laurel

For more stories like this, check out Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons: Finding the Lord's Lessons in Everyday Life by Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith. Available now at Deseret Book or  Zandra and Tamu are also presenters at TOFW: Time Out for Women events. You can see them in Lethbridge, Alberta, on May 7 and other TOFW events this fall


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