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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Giving, A Hand Out or A Hand Up

I have been trying for the last while to figure out how to word what I am trying to say and hopefully now the words will come.

I know in the past when I have tried to explain it I most likely have come across as ungrateful and this has never been my intent. I realize I have lost most of my social edicate and mannerism over the years being isolated as a single parent of a special needs child, so I hope the heart and soul of what I am trying to say comes through.

I think I have found the difference between a hand out and a hand up, after speaking with a dear friend about it.

A hand out is when someone generously gives of the material needs of a person, example if some one is hungry you give food, someone can't afford a bill you pay that bill, someone is in need of a service such as counselling you purchase the service. These are all admiral acts of kindness and generosity, but could something be missing.

When I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and was forced to have a hysterectomy, I was laid up for weeks. I was a new christian and I had been attending a coffee connection at a local church. I didn't know anyone real well. While I was at home recovering, I was surprised by a visit at the door from one of the ladies from the church with a gift of a meal and company. I have to say even though the meal was appreciated the company of the lady was far more valued. I was given the gift of the knowledge that someone cared enough to take time out of their lives to say that I was not alone and someone actually cared about me as a person and gave me a sense of belonging.

I never really understood the impact those ladies had on my healing until we went through the trial of 2009 and the time that followed, they had given me a more than a handout, they gave me a hand up.

In the beginning of that time I was blessed by four people, in the christian community, that offered to my family that sense of care and  belonging as they sacrificed their time to be there when we needed them, even if we didn't always take them up on their offer, just knowing they were there and that they offered, made the world of difference. They searched past the "How are you doing?"" I am ok...I'm surviving..." They took the time to look behind the answer.

Season's changed and two of the four do to their own trials moved away. I was thankful though to a friendship that grew with the third person and she always knew when to say hey it's time to go for coffee and she would sit their with an open ear, filled with heart.

I would start to feel bad that I was always venting my stuff on her alone and even though we had a great God given friendship I was starting to feel alone and isolated. I would still get the assistance from the church for the counselling my family needed and I was grateful for that, but I was loosing my sense of belonging and the isolation would start growing. I was so blessed by my counselor and my dear friend, but feeling abandoned by the community I had just started feeling a part of. I had nothing of me left to reach out as my body and mind were breaking and the lack of personal human contact was feeding that brokenness of being. I was feeling like no one really cared, I was becoming a sense of obligation to those in the community to help support  my material needs, as this is the christian thing to do.

When we see someone in need do we search their hearts needs or do we not go pass their material needs? Sometimes the material needs are just the scratch on the surface, with a much deeper cut below the surface.

 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:12-17


Anonymous said...

I don't know you but I came across your blog -my heart goes out to as you have had a lot of hard stuff that has affected you deeply. You are amazingly resilient as you keep putting one foot in front of the other as you give God the glory. I do identify with you in that I have raised 2 special needs children of my own and support them as young adults and have many difficult things happen on a regular basis. I do have a supportive husband which of course helps immensely. But there are many struggles that our church family has no idea about and would not grasp unless they had walked this journey themselves. For me, I see hand outs and hand ups as the same in that they are both gifts meant to bless by the hearts of the givers. I do not have expectations - people can only give so much and I am grateful for every little gift. Everyone has their own burdens as well - even if we can't see them. I am called to 'wash one anothers feet' just as everyone else and am blessed when I do. It is because my life is filled with pain that I can truly understand anothers. It only takes a smile, encouraging word or a listening ear to show I care. God's grace be with you as you continue to move forward one step at a time.

Nicki said...

Thank you for your kindness, I totally understand what you are saying and I agree on the most part, I am just trying to get out there actually what you said in the end, "It only takes a smile, encouraging word or a listening ear to show you care." I think sometimes we jump quickly to the material needs and jump right past what you have said.

I totally understand that everyone is walking their own journey with needs of their own. I think our greatest downfall is we think we are the only ones because people wear their masks that say everything is ok. Imagine if we started opening up and shared our sufferings and our comforts (2 Corinthians 1:3-11) maybe people would start realizing that they are not alone or isolated in what they are going through.

I am so thankful that you have been blessed with a supportive husband, someone who sounds like you can lean on when you need too and listens.

I think that is why I am trying to get everyone to think of the non material needs as I know as I have traveled this journey and God has been my rock in all of it, my human needs has been for someone to lean on and to listen. God created the need for two to have a child and it takes the balance of two supporting each other when you go through the trials that come as a parent. I know as a single parent I miss that part because as you say no one can grasp this journey unless they had walked it.

I thank you for your comment, may God guide and protect you and your family as you journey forward.