Tuesday, February 25, 2014

giving differently


To love is not to give of your riches 
but to reveal to others their riches, their gifts, their value, 
and to trust them and their capacity to grow. 
-Jean Vanier, The Broken Body: Journey to Wholeness-

Giving to others can be tricky.  Especially when the ones you're giving to are seen as poor or needy.

There can be a weird power difference there.  An attitude of I'm doing a good thing by helping you.  You're welcome.  And our guilt is relieved, so we move on.

What if our actions of giving instead demonstrated genuine commitment to people?

Yes, we have basic needs that need to be met- so I'm not proposing that we stop giving clothes, food, or money to each other. Please keep it up.  But if you stop there, you could miss something.

It requires a radical kind of love to step out of your comfort zone and have a conversation with someone, especially if that someone is a part of a different social class.  And then continue to have conversations with them is even harder.  To let them be vulnerable with you and to be vulnerable with them is hardest.

It is this kind of relationship that really empowers.  It is helpful and nice to be given things, but it is empowering to be known and told that you are strong and gifted.  And to know that those words have credibility because a person who knows you can point to times that you have demonstrated that strength and giftedness.

Honestly, I'm not sure exactly what relationships like this look like- for me or anyone else.  Relationships are messy and complicated and difficult.  But I've heard stories of worlds colliding and the profound goodness that can come from that partnership. Love that.

So, friends, let us love by being generous not only with our riches, but also with our vulnerability and ability to recognize goodness in each other.

Reaching out to someone who is different from you can be daunting, so start with the relationships you have now.  How can you help them remember the blessings they have been given?

Be brave.  Get to know people.  Cherish them for who they are.  

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