As we face a major surgery on our child multiple states away, right around the same time that we have another baby, charity is something that we're having to face. And I say that like it's a bad thing. It's not. But it's hard. Another friend, whom I know only through a mutual friend and her CaringBridge website for her son Malachi, wrote about how difficult it was for her to accept staying at a Ronald McDonald house and to accept the various gifts of time, basic essentials, prayers, money, and many other things that they were given. She put it so well, that charity is something they were used to giving to other people, not something they should be receiving themselves.
We've been on the receiving end already in the last year. And it's something I've struggled with. I don't know how to respond. When asked how they can help, I often draw a blank. I'm so in the mindset of handling things myself just the way they are that I can't even begin to think of what someone else could possibly do for me.
But Leah (Malachi's mom) put it so well. I believe this will link to her post, but if not, it's the one from Dec 22, 2013 titled "All I Got For Christmas Was My Two Front Teeth." She said that there are seasons. And yes, right now is a season of receiving. I have to be realistic about what I can handle. There are areas I'd like to participate in, people I'd like to serve in a tangible way, but I also have to realize that at this point in time... I'm swamped. I could definitely manage my time better, but even with perfect time management I think at this juncture of my life I have my plate as full as it needs to be. Just like there are organizations I'd love to be giving money to, but I have to be realistic as to what my bank account will support. But eventually, there will come another season. As the sermon today talked about, our circumstances are temporary. This too shall pass. And one day, maybe later this year, maybe next year, maybe 5 or 10 years from now, things will have changed. And I will be the one able to give and serve. I look forward to that day.
And ultimately... we're all on the receiving end of charity. That's what grace is. We didn't earn it. We didn't even ask for it. Yet it's given to us. And when we tighten that upper lip and resist, and say we can handle it on our own... we're being prideful. As humans, we can't do this on our own. We need other people. And we need God. And when we shut ourselves up in our little "I can do it myself" boxes, we're just like that toddler that I'm seeing some glimpses of in Turkey. Getting red in the face and frustrated but smacking away the hand that offers to help.
Perhaps I have found yet another reason that we were moved to the middle of nowhere Montana. In the journey here, I've been forced to admit that I need other people. I tried to do all the packing myself for our first move. And my church family bailed me out at the last minute. I felt horrible... I was ashamed... but they dug in, got dirty, and it was an incredible picture of the body of Christ.
My family bailed us out during the second move. We hooked Patty the Pilot up to that overloaded UBox and watched her sink and sink and sink until we realized there was no way we could haul that trailer an hour away. And my brother-in-law brought his truck and got us out of our mess. He and my sister-in-law came in and cleaned up the disaster we left behind, and my mother-in-law sold and donated and just in general dealt with all the stuff we left behind. And once again, I felt horrible about it, I was ashamed that I hadn't been the perfect housekeeper and stayed on top of things and been some kind of super-woman mover.
We came to this tiny town, and the receiving continued. People from our new church moved new-to-us furniture into our house, while we were gone for Christmas. Our landlords helped my husband gut and dispose of a deer. We've been given food. We've had cash given to us right when we had to purchase must-be-made-of-gold ear drops for Ladybug. We were gifted plane tickets for Christmas travel. We've even received Ham radio equipment at great discount, just because that's how people around here are. And who knows how many prayers have been given for us. Random people come walking up to me in stores and at church and ask how I'm doing... and I have no idea how they know me. But I'm guessing that my updates on Ladybug that go to the prayer group aren't falling on deaf ears. And I must admit, when they ask "now who is this?" our family is pretty easy to identify!
I grew up in a family that gave. It was sort of big deal, not to announce it to other people, but to make sure I knew that they were giving. And that's a good thing for a child to learn. But... I needed to learn to receive. Really needed to learn it, apparently. Because receiving teaching humility. It teaches that sometimes, you're not good enough. And that's okay. Because that's where grace and mercy come in. If you can't accept help from other people, how can you really accept help from God? How can you grasp it? Because there's always that thing in the back of my mind that wants to say "I'm a good person, I can earn grace." But when people just give you things, help you out, when you really haven't had or taken the opportunity to help them first? It takes you down a notch. And that RUF saying, where you're never so bad you're beyond the reach of God's grace, and you're never so good you're beyond the need of God's grace, finally hits home.