Monday, May 22, 2006

Definitions & Deep Thinking

Charity n.
1.The giving of aid to the poor
2.The aid given
3.An institution, organization, or fund for the help of the needy
4.A feeling of good will or kindness towards others
5.An act of good will or kindness
6.Tolerance; leniency

Generosity n.
1.Liberality in giving or willingness to give
2.Nobility of thought or behavior; magnanimity
3.Amplitude; abundance
4.A generous act

Deep Thinking
One of the many things that have been hard to understand and adjust to revolves around the aforementioned words. We came here knowing the needs were many and the needs were great. We came here thinking that by acting generous and charitable we would somehow feel fulfilled. I (tara) think we were wrong. I don't think you can be expect to feel fulfilled by helping people who need help. I believe the only way you can feel fulfilled is by trusting God with your life and looking to Him for fulfillment.

While helping someone out with a financial, practical or material need might feel nice in the moment, it is not a long term solution for fulfillment. This is especially true as you learn that even when you *think* you have done something special, something helpful, something big ... you will soon find out that in a country with poverty of this magnitude, what you have done is just a small blip on the radar screen. You constantly need to check your motives to be sure you are not doing it for a thank you or a warm fuzzy feeling.

A perfect example, we had gotten about four or five items for an employee as a gift. We can afford it, he needed it and it really would not matter in our budgeting to help him with a few items for his household. At the end of the day where we had been picking up items for him all along the way, he said "Hey, what happened with my tennis shoes? Weren't you going to have Britt get me some shoes when she was in the States?"

Now, we won't lie ... that sort of stuff causes us to be taken aback. It does not line up with the way we give or the way we expect to be treated when we give. BUT ... it is a good lesson.

God asks us to give when the Holy Spirit prompts us to give. He asks us to be open handed. He asks us to trust Him. He asks us to show kindness. Nowhere in those directions does it say that the person will be thankful, that you will find fulfillment from giving or that it means you should walk around patting yourself on the back.

We dislike entitlement. We enjoy being generous. Many people here assume that because you are American and have more than them, you OWE it to them to help. We don't think that, but we do think there are lessons for us.

The important lesson for us has been to stay focused on following the Lord's leading & prompting, showing love to the best of our ability and finding our fulfillment in HIM alone.

You can do no great things, just small things with great love.
~Mother Teresa

Photo Credit: Scott Tanner May 2006