“So let yourself feel satisfaction when you do a good deed for someone else. But remind yourself that we are no less hungry for love than those to whom we extend it. When our generosity is born of our poverty rather than our wealth – our need rather than our means – we are bound more closely to one another and more closely approach God’s intention that, be we man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, beggar or king, we can only be grateful that God gives us life and with it the ability to affect the lives of one another.” Erik Kolbell
Lately I’ve been re-reading two books that have been on my shelves for several years; Erik Kolbell’s The God of Second Chances and Wil Hernandez’s Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension. Both writers take complex processes and help readers try to make something out of spiritual experiences that we will never fully understand. Polarity is a part of our religion and our faith which we cannot escape, but it certainly hasn’t stopped people from trying.
There are many instances when I’ve forgotten something I had already learned. And unlike the forgotten major and minor piano chords or first year biology, it’s in my best interest to remember and practice the spiritual lessons I have been taught.
I have been doing front line work with vulnerable populations for over a decade. In addition to work, I have always been an active volunteer. It wasn’t until re-reading the passage from Erik Kolbell that I had a different understanding of what is involved in giving to others. I came from the framework of giving to others because I have something to give and that I could only give what I had. I thought, “How can one give away what they don’t have in the first place?” But I now realize how giving and serving works at a deeper, spiritual level.
We are all in need of something and if we keep this biblical principal in mind, we can prevent ourselves from forgetting this. You’re not a middle-class person giving to those in poverty, you are actually a person with one type of poverty giving to someone with a different type of poverty. You aren’t a good wife who is giving love to her children, you are a mother who loves her children and at the same time you are in need of their love as well. The concept is simple, but the action is difficult; we all need each other.
Keeping in mind that we are all in need of something, how does this affect how you give to others?
Make a mental or physical list of things (tangible or emotional) in life that you know you need. Make a mental or physical list of things (tangible or emotional) that you have given to others in the past month. Make time to pray over the list and give God thanks for what you’ve been able to give to others and those that you have been able to receive.