I'm stingy, so thank God for my generous husband. If you were to tip the scales on money management, I always err on the side of saving money instead of spending it. Somewhere out there, my husband is howling and a credit card statement has lost its wings. I'm not sure he'd believe me because my wrist is really good at swiping and as long as the credit card ain't broke, then it works, so I should keep swiping. Am I right or am I right, ladies?
I suppose my larger point is this: I like feeling as though I have control of things. I think we all do and one way we allegedly feel in control is our use of money. While I'm stingy, I also love giving. A story that strikes me, a family in need, an organization that works to educate children out of poverty, or a family whose heart is to adopt-these stories touch me and in our hearts we are compelled to give. I'll spare you the list of what or to whom we've given monies to and won't recount all the service hours (no, years) Jonathan and I have committed to furthering the good news in peoples' lives. You might start to think we're special or rich (or don't have full-time jobs), and we're not either of those, although we are most certainly prideful.
Prior to two months ago, Jonathan and I lived our normal lives of giving and blessing others. It was easy; it made us feel good. Truthfully, it made us thankful that we weren't the charity and didn't need the help. Here is what I have learned:
We all want to give to charity, but none of us want to be the charity.
Let that line sink in a moment. Giving, by virtue, means we have something to give, something to offer, something someone wants or needs. It feels good to have stuff; we love our stuff. What we don't like is not having stuff. I hate needing things because it forces me into a posture of humility. It means I'm dependent on someone else. Being charity is an admission that I have a need that I cannot meet for myself or for my family. Jonathan and I have, for the last two months, had to be the charity.
People have shown up on our door-step to deliver a meal because I still can't lift pots and pans. People have visited us when I was home-bound. Some we know well and some we hardly know, and others who just want to "pay it forward". My mom and dad have washed my dishes and ran my laundry, not because I wanted them to, but because I couldn't do it. It's humiliating when someone else has to help your child do her homework because you don't have the mental acuity to help her work. Admitting that you have a need takes courage. It takes courage to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is also risky; it requires exposure at the cost of potential rejection.
It's humbling admitting that we have a need, but when we meditatively reflect on our lives we know, we really know, there are times when we are all charity cases and need the help of others. When we realize that we are all beggars trying to show other beggars where the bread is, we have an invitation to dine at the table, and once seated, the view from the table is a beautiful one. It is one of communion, unity, sharing, generously giving, and joyously receiving. By grace and compassion, others step up to fill in the gaps, and we never know who is going to show up to shower us with their love and affection. When we're needy, we don't get to choose- we get surprises.
I haven't loved all parts of this adventure. I haven't loved surgery, ICU, the constant state of emergency my life was in after my fall, and shudder when I think about how my husband humbled himself and swept away his grief to come alongside me and remain steadfast for me in my pain and suffering, but I the love the surprises. I love seeing the generosity, love, and compassion of others. From where I sit, the seat is warm from the company that dines with me and the future is bright with the kindness and gentleness of others. Thank you all for the surprises.