In the middle of the never-ending winter I suited up beds with fresh, clean sheets. The sun poured in the windows, even though the blinds were drawn and I thought about the simple beauty in a day and in a life...and on second glance...wait - what was that?
A big fat fly wandering from behind that closed blind out onto my window sill?
I stared at it, confused.
This is winter!
How long have you been there in the shadows...without me noticing? How have you stayed alive?
My thoughts quickly went from confusion, to questions and then to...anger.
I was annoyed at this stupid bug. I'm not a fan of winged creatures crawling on the inside walls of my safe, reserved-for-humans-only house. I was irritated by its presence and moreover I was indignant that in the midst of winter - which, to me, is just a long, lovely break from all things buzzy and wingy - there it was. Right there. Where it didn't belong and where I didn't want to think about it.
Does my reaction seem over the top?
Would you feel the same way?
When I broke it down and thought about it...my reaction did seem pretty intense for a housefly. But, unedited, and in the moment - those were my gut reactions. And, my mind couldn't help but start to draw a parallel from the most unexpected circumstances...and even if you can't relate to the fly invasion reaction, consider how you feel about what the next level is. I think it will be recognizable to many of us...
He calls out for spare change in the middle of the theatre district, and in your dressy clothes and sweet smelling perfume, you avert your eyes and grab the arm of your companion, stepping around him and whispering under your breath - "Seriously, you can't even go out anymore without them being there. Why is he here? Go get a job."
You flop on the couch and flick on the TV to relax after a long day and the first image across the screen is a newscaster reporting about the human trafficking epidemic that is 'closer to home than you think'. You shake your head and think - way to ruin my downtime..why do I want to think about that right now...or ever?!? It's too sad and horrible. What can I possibly do about that?
The malls are packed with holiday shoppers, Christmas tunes lilt through the halls and stores. You're feeling elated as you have just one last thing to shop for and then your list will be done...you can officially enjoy Christmas. Then - dead ahead - there it is - right in the middle of the mall - the sponsor child display. The workers are actually going INTO the crowd and approaching people with packets affixed with pictures of children! Why do they DO THAT?!? Why do they use the holidays to try to guilt me into caring about people I don't even know? And where does that money go anyway?
Sound or feel familiar?
It came to me clearly, because it's familiar to me.
In a season of raising my own kids and dealing with my own life-stuff, there have been times where the poor, the maginalized and the desperate feel like an interruption.
The images we're bomabarded with can leave us feeling not empowered to help, but rather, helpless to affect any real change.
Sometimes it truly is a heart attitude about who matters - and we have decided that the people that matter are our families and ourselves. And if that's the case then we really do need to consider change.
And sometimes, it's the magnitude of the problems that leave us feeling as if - what does my time, my money, or my compassion even do?
Here's what I'm learning.
There is always more room to give. Always.
Generosity is rarely - if ever - repaid with lack.
The opening of a heart almost always results in a heart that strangely - now - has even more room to grow.
Overwhelmed? Choosing those little moments that present themselves on a weekly or daily basis. Try one of those out.
The $40/month sponsor child may be a 'no' for you, but taking a senior citizen's grocery cart back to the store for them, or a weekly purchase of Kraft Dinner tacked on to your groceries for the food bank may be a 'yes'.
It seems we defer to our brains when we feel we may lose something and we defer to our hearts when we want something. Next time an opportunity to 'see' someone in need presents itself and you feel your protective brain kicking in - defer to your heart.
Try it out. See what it feels like.
I'm learning when it comes to true generosity, and compassion, and benevolence...the heart usually can be trusted.
The truth is - at the end of my days, I don't want to look back and say, "I was really good at protecting what was mine."
I want to say, "I was blessed with much and I gave all that I could, whenever I could, and I have no regrets."