Do the issues of the world, our country, the local community weigh on you? Do you try to figure out what you can do to help people….many people…a few people…even one person? Do you think about the people who are sleeping outside on a frigid night with nowhere to go? Do you worry about the kids whose only meals come from the school cafeterias? Do you ponder what becomes of the kids who have no toys or crayons or books at all? Do you weep for the mothers trying to protect their children from war, drugs, hunger, despair all across the world? Do you ponder all the injustice and mistreatment and pray for change? Do you worry about family and friends just barely hanging on?
Do you feel guilty for indulging, being warm and cozy, showering your kids with gifts, looking the other way, going on with your own life?
These things do weigh on me and I do feel sadness and guilt. I do want to help…everyone. And yet, sometimes it's totally overwhelming. There is so much need and hurt and despair and brokenness everywhere.
I am a Christian. To me, part of being a Christian is loving all people, regardless of whether I agree with how they live their lives or what they stand for, always giving and doing for others in any way I can for those who are struggling, whether that is through prayer, money, clothing, groceries or time and working to live my life as a beacon of hope, faith and love…basically, striving to live as Jesus did.
I am also human. So, this means that I often fail, despite my best intentions. I lose my temper and patience with those who stand for things I abhor and feel desperate to open their eyes to truth and love. I waste my money on superficial, nonessential things instead of using it for good. I forget to pray for people I intended to pray for. I pass by a person in need without offering anything because I'm not sure how to help.
And yet, I do believe that if we all love and help and support each other, we will all be better off. So, even though I will falter in my goal, I will keep trying to do more wherever I find a need.
The problem is that there is a need everywhere I turn. And I struggle with how much and when and where and who to give to. I have often said, "Lord, if you would see fit to bestow a great amount of money on me, I would be able to do so much more for so many more in need." So far, the Lord has not seen fit to do so. Instead, I do what I can with what I have as much as I can. In so doing, I hope to instill a sense of giving and serving and being merciful upon my children.
It matters not to me whether the person or people I strive to help are sinners or saints, drug addicts or alcoholics or misguided or foolish, Christians, Muslims, Jews or atheists, homeless or well off, educated or ignorant, Republican or Democrat, Independent or Libertarian, black, white, blue or purple. If it be in my power to help someone in need, I will strive to do it. I can disagree with one's actions and beliefs whether I help that person or not.
I also think that charity must start within the family. If a person giving loads of money and/or time to a foundation or nonprofit or church outreach organization fails to see and help the elderly aunt or down-on-her-luck sister or cousin or in-need-of-assistance child or neighbor, I think this person may be giving for his or her own pride and profit or is merely ignorant of the need and suffering closer to home. We must always help and love and support friends and family who are in need of mercy and love and a hot meal or a bag groceries, or a few coins too.
Let us not forget to be merciful, charitable and full of love and goodness and kindness all year round, but most especially at this time of year when we look forward to celebrating the birth of HE who embodied being merciful, charitable and full of love and goodness and kindness. Over and out…