Caring as Giving
By Amy Knorr
As I walked toward the grocery store entrance, I cringed. The table by the door and the guy in front of the table could mean only one thing: some organization was asking people to give. I thought about going in the other door, or maybe pretending to get an important phone call, or just hunkering down and making a run for it…but in the end, I met the guy's eyes and waited for his pitch.
"Would you like to give to help homeless veterans?"
I mumbled something about not right this moment and walked into the grocery store. Then I thought about the encounter the whole way through the store, trying to figure out why I was so bothered.
Our family loves to give. We give to our local church. We support several families serving overseas. We take meals to people when we hear of a birth or a death or a difficult time. In our previous city, our kids routinely made breakfast to give to a man we saw on our way to church who was without a home.
Our favorite night during Advent is when we sit as a family and pore over catalogs of local and international needs and choose one item to purchase in honor of each family member. We honestly find joy in giving, and believe it to be both a calling and a privilege to do so.
So why was I so bothered by the man outside my grocery store?
Was it because it was in public? Was it because I felt pressured? Was it because I had just received a call for donations from another organization? Maybe it was just because this man symbolized the first in a long list of hard things being made visible as we move into the "Giving Season."
…this man symbolized the first in a long list of hard things being made visible as we move into the "Giving Season."
I finished my shopping and, to my shame, went out the other door. As I walked into the parking lot, I felt the man's gaze fall on me with all the weight of those I was turning my back on. Or maybe, out of my sense of failure, I just imagined it.
Here's the thing: the idea that veterans could be homeless is an idea that fills me with rage and ache. The news that a local home for seniors has burned, leaving the elderly displaced, bows me down with sadness. The knowledge that in the wake of an earthquake, Indonesian families are quickly burying their loved ones in a mass grave just to prevent disease pushes me toward the edge of despair. And I cannot give to all.
But I can care.
Simply to care is to give. Sometimes that care will look like money in an envelope, or an electronic donation. Sometimes it will look like a warm hug and a chicken pot pie. And sometimes, it will look like tears staining my cheeks when I feel compelled to kneel and pray long after I should have been asleep.
I was made to care by the One who cared first, and continues to care, even when our world feels like it's been abandoned to pain and sorrow.
I don't ever want to stop caring, even when the weight feels heavier than I can bear. I was made to care by the One who cared first, and continues to care, even when our world feels like it's been abandoned to pain and sorrow. It is in those times that I know most of all that my care is needed, that it is part of the giving ministry of restoration that as a follower of Jesus I am called to be a part. I may not be able to donate to every organization that asks me to give, but I am able to care.
Oh, let me never stop caring. Let us never stop caring.
Amy Knorr is an educator and freelance writer living in Pennsylvania Amish country. She has a passion for speaking and facilitating community learning. She is married to a scientist who makes her laugh, and has two little girls who make her laugh harder. She blogs at One Step to Blue.