Sunday, January 31, 2010

Give it Away

For years I have prayed for the gift of charity, the pure love of Christ, with what has felt like little success. In my simplistic way of thinking, charity means being able to love others in an open-hearted way, even if that love is not likely to be returned. It's a gift I think I desperately need, yet can't learn or practice my way into having. I truly think it has to come as a gift from God, simply because it requires an unselfishness that is beyond my own capacity. Don't get me wrong, I have a loving heart and try to share it, but mostly with lovable people! Lovable people are so easy to love, while thorny people often sting you when you try, which makes it quite easy to quit trying.

Today a conversation with a friend sparked a thought in me that has hung on all day. We were talking about how the things we try to accumulate in order to prepare for the future are often not meant for us, but end up being needed by someone else. We began by talking about things like money or food, but soon began to see that emotional qualities, like love, work the same way. I thought about how I often sit in meetings at church and look around at all the wonderful ladies surrounding me, and suddenly feel a deep love for them as individuals. In my mind I get really sappy sometimes, wanting to stand up and list these fabulous qualities people have that are flooding through my mind. Or, I make plans to find someone after the meeting's over to tell them how great they really are. The problem is, I never do. I wrote about this phenomenon in my journal over two years ago, ending with, "Maybe what I am feeling is an expression of the charity I've been seeking, and that gives me hope that I am progressing and can obtain a greater portion of it in the future."

Ah, but what happens if you receive a gift and then reject it? Can you really expect to get even more of that same gift later? I've rarely ever expressed out loud what has been in my heart all those times, which now seems painfully like a rejection of the very gift I've been seeking. Over the last couple of weeks I've been blessed to receive far more than my fair share of verbal and written expressions of love from others. What a healing balm has been poured over my heart because I've felt loved! And suddenly, I see that I've missed countless opportunities to give that same feeling to others. I've felt charity for them in my own heart, but I've tried to just store it up, when instead I should have been giving it away. 

I'm not saying I'm going to be standing up in a crowd any time soon to wax poetic about someone, but maybe if I catch you alone, I just might tell you what you mean to me for a change.


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The Crider Clan said...

I think a lot of people struggle with this...I know I do. I'm inspired to try harder to see the charitable gifts I have, and not hoard them either. Because, as I show charity to others, it makes them happy, but it is a bigger gift of happiness to myself...then I have more to give. Good thoughts!

Kent and Jan said...

A friend of ours told us about her friend in Glendale, who was told by their Stake President that everyone should be storing water - as much as they could - in small bottles. Wanting to be obedient, they purchased small bottles of water, as did many others in their stake. Some people thought, "we already have a lot of water stored in our jugs and tanks - we don't need to do this."
Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and the Stake President asked the people to bring all their small bottles of water to a central location, where they filled several semi-trucks with water. Those who had not obeyed were not able to help. The members of the stake who had purchased bottles of water felt like they had really helped.
You are right: That which we keep, we lose, and that which we give away, we keep forever.

Connie said...

I read this tonight and thought of you and this blog (:...

“I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. … I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm … and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. … I looked at it, and smiled, and said, ‘What are you crying about?’ You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk, and I thought I heard it say this: ‘How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down.’ … I said, ‘Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, “Thank you, Mr. Gardener”