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The Kindness of 'Sort of ' Strangers
by Elizabeth Hale
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Okay, here's the thing. My husband has been unable to work since his car accident on December 15th. We have absolutely no money coming in at this time. Still, we had a wonderful Christmas and are awaiting the dawning of a new year. Today, we were reflecting on the fact that at this time last year we expected to be in better financial condition by the end of this year and in fact, we are in worse. Sigh. I just don't get it.

Rick's mom generously gave us a loan on work Rick will do on the house she just bought. My mom gave us a gift card to use at the grocery store. The daughter of the man whose wife my mom cares for gave us $80.00 cash today--she told my mother that the money had been intended for another purpose but when it wasn't needed there, she knew my family was meant to have it. I am overwhelmed at the kindness, meant to relieve some of my worry, but I also feel so guilty.

"Surely, there is a better use for all this, someone who needs it and deserves it more," I can't help thinking. It makes me feel uncomfortable--reminds me that I'm not really as self-sufficient as I may have thought. Reminds me, once again, that I have no control over my destiny at all--it's all been handed over to Jesus. Reminds me of just how much I depend on Him. Reminds me that I am just one of many players on this stage called life, and just as prone to all the uncertainties that entails.

See, I am used to being the one who 'gives' to others. I am not at all used to being on the receiving end of it. I don't know what to say to those who are busy supporting me and mine. My first instinct is to just give it all back and muddle through. But--what about all those times I 'gave' to others? Did they feel the same mixture of joy, relief, and total undeservedness that I am feeling? Did my giving ever make them feel that tiny twinge of--shame--that I am feeling? Ashamed because---? What? Because my husband had a car accident and we weren't financially prepared for it? We weren't prepared for our bankruptcy either and can barely make the weekly payments to the trustee, often putting the house payment off until Rick has a sufficient side job underway. Still, we haven't missed dinner yet. Somehow we manage to pay the bills eventually. We're still living here. Still alive. Still very blessed. Still determined to follow after our Savior who has been ever faithful to us.

Probably my 'receivees' felt that prick of shame too. But at this point, I can't be too proud. We need that which was offered. It's that simple. Since Rick actually has been diagnosed with a whiplash involving his spine, his health must take priority over all else. Our family's future rests upon his health. He has to take time to heal. There is no other choice, no matter what the bank or the bill collector's have to say about it.

Rick just smiles at me. Sometimes his calmness irks me. Seems as if we have changed places in some ways since we wed. It's true--two really do become one--habits and mannerisms and traits get intertwined and woven in both of you when you're married. It really is amazing.

"I guess we finally found out that other people really would be there for us--like we were for them before. That's nice to know," Rick says.

It is nice to know. Yet hard to take. If you're a giver, like me, gently offer whatever help you can, but keep in mind that you're still dealing with human beings who are naturally filled with pride and be tactful about it. It really is easier to give than it is to take and this is something that is being driven home to me more and more lately. You may think it's easy to ask or beg for what you need but it isn't. I will never believe that most people are just waiting for a hand-out. People have the natural urge to work for what they acquire--it's a self-respect thing. When a person has to accept a gift--well, let's just say it's very humbling.

Not sure exactly where we're going to wind up on this little adventure but I do know this. When we're up again, the kindnesses that have been granted us will be repaid. Either directly to our benefactors or by 'paying it forward'. And I will continue to be a giver--I won't ever stop that. But I will carry with me a fresh perspective on it. And I will carefully chose my approach.

Praise God for the kindness of so many 'sort of' strangers! My Father knows exactly what He's doing at all times and He knows where the road ends. I'm thankful that I can rest with Him and I'm thankful that He can be trusted to sort out all the details.

I'm just plain old-------THANKFUL!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jounda LaMance 31 Dec 2006
And I will continue to be a giver--I won't ever stop that. But I will carry with me a fresh perspective on it. And I will carefully chose my approach.

Valuable lesson here! Praying for you all! Your friend and sister in Christ, Jounda


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