Giving From the Heart
When I was a senior pastor, we told people that their giving should only be to the church. If people gave to the poor, they were irresponsible. Everyone knows that if you give to someone on the corner, they are going to buy booze with the money, or drugs. I believe when you tell people what to do, they stop listening to that still small voice. They stop giving, except to the church.
“Check your pockets”, Edna said to me. She was an older woman who was employed at my agency. For whatever reason she had run out of money from her paycheck. We were paid bi-weekly and I faced the decision as to whether or not to help her. I learned in Christianity that it was better to be giving than to receive. With coworkers, that’s a fine line and you don’t want people finding out. It made me think of John and what my father would do.
My father had a man in his life named John that he was always giving things to. Dad called him, “Lotta Brains” and would chuckle whenever he used that nickname. John reminded me of a man who did too much dope in the sixties. He told me that he fried his brain on drugs so, “Now I only drink alcohol”. The situation he had with my father reminded me a lot of my coworker Enda. Every dollar he made would get blown within a short time after payday. That was where my dad came in. Dad loved to give and somehow John had found him.
John lived in a trailer in Caseville, Michigan. I remember he had a dog once and he told me a story about getting drunk and swinging his dog around by the tail. He wasn’t so good with pets. John relied on my father and his giving nature to get him through the month because he couldn’t get his WalMart paycheck to last. It never failed that John would show up at my dads with some trinket to barter to make it through to the end of the month.
Laughter is Medicine
I remember how that goofy look that John would give me at times, his often sunburned head was shiny with most of his blonde hair gone. He was thick but not really heavy, a rather stocky fellow with a sweet smile. Most of the time I had to weed through what he was saying to understand him. I do remember he liked to laugh, and so did my dad, so they were quite the pair.
An Irish Twist
Once, my father told John that if he ate a bushel of carrots it would fix his eyesight. John had complained that he was getting “over forty eyes” and the Irish in my dad couldn’t resist. Three days later, John returned to tell my father he was eating so many carrots that he felt sick but his eyes didn’t seem any better. My dad, who looked a lot like Fred Flintstone, would chuckle and grin, with his wispy laughter. He got John again.
John came to my father and told him that his pipes were not flowing very well. Dad told him to take a small caliber pistol and shoot down the pipe with it. John took a .44 caliber handgun and fired it into his pipes. Dad was wispy laughing for quite a while with a few, “Jes’Crice’s”(My father’s way of saying Jesus Christ, but not really). He finally asked John if his pipes were working better after he caught air back in his lungs. John, who was smiling and laughing too, said that there was quite a bit of sand coming out now but it was better.
John was probably around twenty years younger than my father and eventually called him “Dad”, “Paw” and a few other endearing names. He treated my dad like his own father. I was there once when John came in with a gray ceiling fan and plopped it down on the floor. “How much you give me for this Russ?” He was smiling. Dad’s response was usual, “How much ya need?” John had taken the fan from his own mother’s home in order to get enough money to make it through the month.
There was a code between the two of them. Something that men do for other men to save face. Dad would allow John to bring something to him, and he would either keep it or allow John to buy it back when he got his paycheck from WalMart, always for a small loan. This went on for over twenty years. Then, when my father passed away at sixty-three, it stopped. Somehow, John had always managed to maintain stability because of my dad’s generous heart. I wish I could tell you John kept his job and did well after my father died. He missed my father so much that he didn’t last long without him.
Seeds of the Father
When it came to Edna, I remembered my father and how he would help John. It’s not that he wanted to be codependent, he understood the need was there and giving was part of who my father was. Symbiosis is witnessed everywhere in nature. It’s us humans that like to put a negative spin on it. We talk about building community supports for people and yet, when they find that support, we label it a negative. I just don’t think it’s wrong to give when you give from your heart.
My Father’s Daughter
I gave Edna a twenty when she needed it. She didn’t ask me every other week, but I always gave her the same twenty dollar bill when she did ask. She would take it, spend it and then was faithful to return the finances to me on payday week or at least by the following Monday. Had she not repaid my initial gift, that would have been the end of it. She would always return the money. It made me think of John. Even though my father teased him, he loved him and cared for him.
Why Edna didn’t think to put her own twenty dollar bill in an envelope on payday and then access it herself on the off week, I will never know. When she returned the money to me, I would put it back in my it’s cubby hole in my desk and earmark it for when she asked again. The replenishing twenty spot was a piece of paper that didn’t mean as much as being there for a human being when they have needs. She was also always helpful when I needed her in return.
Spirit Led Giving
Today, I give whenever I’m compelled to. I give freely without expecting anything in return. If I’m at a stop light and see someone in need and I want to help, I do so. Oh, I know when someone is trying to take advantage of me. It’s also important to have healthy boundaries. I’m free to give now, especially to the Edna. I keep a little extra in my desk for just such a pocket checking emergency.
Available publications by Kimberly
All Things Equal which is an exposition for women and how God sees them
For Nicholas: An encounter with the parents of Nicholas that changed perceptions.
The Needs Of The One: An encounter with a schizophrenic man that touched my soul.
Farm Lessons: Life and Death lessons are every day on a farm.
Check out this recent blog by clicking here.
Read, “When the Good News Goes Bad” by clicking here.
You can find me on Facebook at “PK Langley”
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