Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Walk a Mile in my Shoes

Our family enjoys watching the TV program "The Secret Millionaire". The premise of the show is for a multi-millionaire to leave his/her comfortable surroundings and live like the poor of the nation. For one week, the millionaire will have to live in conditions they are not used to without the aide of bank cards, credit cards or any of the other benefits they are accustomed to having. They will be posing as a person doing a documentary on volunteering and will visit usually, three different individuals or charitable organizations and become a volunteer at each of them. At the end of the show, the millionaire reveals his true identity and gives a substantial cheque to the organizations or individuals he feels are the most deserving.

Each millionaire expresses how they didn't know how the other person lived and that the experience opened their eyes and made them appreciate their own life so much more. Most of them remained involved with the organizations which they volunteered at. Their own lives were changed because they spent a week seeing how the 'other half lives'.

I think that would be a good exercise for us all to do. Most of us are very good givers but poor receivers. Most of us are uncomfortable being on the receiving end of anything but until we have been, I don't think we can truly empathize with the ones we are giving to. I had always been the one giving out. I had set up and ran a soup kitchen. I gave out groceries and clothing when I knew there was a need. I have lent money without expecting it returned. It made me feel good to be able to give. But I was never able to fully understand the position of the receiver until I had to stand in a food bank line up with my three small children, waiting for a box of groceries.

When my husband was in Bible college he also worked as a campus safety officer for the college. When he first started the job he was only getting one shift per week and the pay from that was only $42. We have five people in our family and although our children were very young at the time, it was still very hard to feed a family on $42. per week, and put gas in the car and buy diapers and milk etc. etc. etc. So when I heard about a church which had a food bank, I realized I had to go to try and help my family with groceries.

I had never been in that situation before and it was horrible. I stood in that line and battled the sin of pride. I fidgeted back and forth and I almost bolted just before my name was called. But the Lord clearly spoke to me and said that if I left now I would never be able to understand how it felt to be on the other side of the counter. I knew I had to stay. Standing in that line up was the longest twenty minutes of my life, but I did it and I'm glad I did. I needed to have my pride corrected. I needed to walk in someone else's shoes so I could understand and not judge.

I have been blessed in my life. I have always had my needs met but not everyone is so blessed. I still look for ways to help others and to see if there is a need that I can help meet. But since I had to be on the receiving end I have done so with more compassion and emphathy and without judgement. The next time someone tries to give you something and you start to protest, check your pride, it just might be a lesson from the Lord He wants you to learn. He might be asking you to humble yourself and be a good receiver so the other person can be blessed and you as well.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38

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