Monday, January 26, 2015

bread is essential

In my work, I am always seeing the world through two different channels of help.  I see the most well intentions folks who are really just wanting to make sure the crowd is taken care of with their help. A group of concerned citizens who are part of something larger than themselves. It's always intriguing to see even in the smallest towns in the Texas Panhandle. It's a vantage point where I can see the very best of people.  It feels like such an honor to see these things.

I was visiting a pantry and I was talking with the director and he shared with me that they have been doing this for over 35 years.  I asked what is the biggest misconception people have about what you do?  He immediately went into a story about how when he first started he would get so mad because there were people who would get help and not say thank you.  He said, "If I was in their shoes I know I would say thank you to those helping me."  I was puzzled and it must have registered with him because he just blurted out,  "No, I realized I had just put the wrong expectation on them."  He explained that after a while the people would come back and they ones who didn't say thank you, or seem grateful, would begin to make sure they were heard.  They would go to every volunteer and thank them personally.

He realized just what was happening.  When they had first come to the pantry they were in survival mode.  They were so desperate to meet the needs of their families that they could only just do that. Their needs had put blinders on them. They were obviously grateful, but they were just so focused. Later, as their emergency situation became less desperate they could see things they were blinded to earlier.

How many times have we helped someone and got offended because they didn't seem grateful enough?  I know I have, and after hearing this perspective it's majorly shifted my thoughts.  When you help, just do that.... HELP. If you think the person is ungrateful, and you get offended I think we miss something.  I think we should question our motives.  There are people so desperate that they can't see anything but surviving.

There is a great quote from Gandhi that has always made me think, "There are some people in this world that are so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread."

If we meet people's physical needs, it opens them up to spiritual ones.  I think in the arc of life, invested time after time in others is befitting our intentions.