Saturday, October 12, 2013

If Love Is Real It Shares

At the locked residential treatment center for kids I work at I am learning something that isn't taught in fundamentalism or evangelicalism. Sharing. Sharing with others.

Amidst all the work, kids, utter chaos that sometimes reigns at the treatment center I've been observing the phenomena of those with the least to give seem to give the easiest. Is it because they value possessions in a lesser way? Or is it being disadvantaged makes you realize that holding on to things doesn't keep you from losing them?

I don't know. I've thought about it a great deal as it seems many times the kids are eager to give people their drawings and sometimes even their personal possessions. Most of them have been either surrendered to the state or products of homes with little in the way of anything.

It reminds me of the story Laura told me after returning from her mission trip to Romania. To her the most touching moment was when a homeless Gypsy girl her own age offered to share her bag of potato chips. Someone with very little sharing with another without any expectation of favor or reward

But most the giving I've witnessed is with two of my coworkers. The two black ladies a few years younger than I who were hired at the same time I was to help out with audit season. Both were raised in incredibly difficult circumstances by mothers who struggled with substance abuse before being raised by extended families. They're both single moms who until recently were on WIC and food stamps themselves. Neither are what you'd call well off or even middle class. They don't have a lot to give but give they do to others at work, each other and anyone who looks their way.

They shame me with their ability to be generous easily. Until I started working with both of them I considered myself to be a giver, a generous person who gave to those less fortunate. While I have raised money and food for the local food bank and given tithes and money, man power and other things my giving hasn't been a natural part of who I am.

Their giving is a organic natural part of who they are, as reflexive as breathing.  I want that.

Giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return is the kind of selfless love I want. A way to love, in such short supply everywhere these days. True love gives.

I'm not talking about giving to people trying to scam you out of something or manipulate you into giving. I'm talking about a mindset that helps out all the time.

Looking back at my old Fundigelical church and many others, particularly others that are politically involved with the extreme right wing and/or Teaparty types, I see very little giving in day to day life, just carefully staged giving where everyone can see. Plus that ever charming proclamations that the poor need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job like everyone else. Nothing for the poor.

Most of the people I know who are very religious or of a certain social class seem to equate giving with weakness instead of heeding what the book they claim to be following, the Bible, has to say about being generous. I think I'll ignore them, the politicians, the preachers and do what my two new friends at work do, actually live the spirit of giving, or try to. I'm working on it, started to share what I have with others that could use it better than I could including giving to those two ladies. It is going to take some work in my mind.

Part of that means staying away from restaurants and retail shops in my area tonight. It's the last day of the Values Voting conference in the Greater DC area and the poorer congregations usually end up staying in our tiny town. Last year when they were here I got some flack for wearing knee length baggy shorts. Being around those type of religious folks is going to short circuit my giving mindset and make me want to lay down a verbose beat down.

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