Lately I have become obsessed with reels on Facebook. I have no idea where they come from, like Tik Tok or something I have no clue, but they are addictive. I need to break the habit now before I lose the last level of ability to concentrate I have. The truth, however, is that I have learned a few things from these 30 second blasts of distraction.
There is a person who goes around and asks people if they can give him bus fare or buy him a bottle of water or some other small gesture. If the person asked offers to fill the request, the asker gives the person $500 or another sum of money.
Caviat, I am not foolish enough to think these are not edited for a specific outcome. I am not even sure of the validity, but they bring up a few valid points that I have been struggling with as of late.
In these videos, people in a checkout line (say people who have something) are asked for whatever assistance is needed and most times the askee declines. When a person is asked who shows evidence that they may be struggling financially, they usually dig deep and come up with the bus fare or whatever the request may be.
When asked why they are willing to give when it is obvious they do not have it to spare, the reply is I would want someone to do it for me if I needed it. In other words, treat others as you would want to be treated.
This is a very basic human rule that we should all live by. Of course, as we all know, fewer and fewer people live by this code, if you will. Why is that?
That is my quandary at the moment. I believe it is because it is too easy to get jaded in this life. Myself included. I have two stories about my jadedness.
Story #1. Many years ago I went with a friend to visit a doctor in a big city. This was at a time in my life where I was about to lose my house and all I owned. I was only able to go because my friend paid for everything. I had about $23 left to my name and I offered to buy coffee the morning we were heading back home. While outside the coffee shop, a homeless person asked me for money and I truthfully said that I had none. He replied back by saying “who comes to the city without money.” And he huffed away totally disgusted with me.
I know at that point I still “had” more than him but I had nothing to give. The two coffees went over what I had in the bank and I ended up bouncing a check and that was the cycle I was in. I would have liked to help but I was into years of financial decline at my own hands.
Story #2. I was asked to volunteer at a soup kitchen for a day and I agreed. While there I tried to help out but I did not know how things worked so I learned that I needed to just stay out of the way. I did exactly as I was told, which was to place ONE piece of bread on a plate and move the plate along.
Being the new guy, I was asked several times by the people being served if they could get an extra piece of bread. That was not allowed because there was only enough to go around if given one piece. It was hard for me to say no but I kept getting the watchful eye from the other volunteers when it looked like I might cave in. (I fully understand now about making sure that you can serve as many as possible in the fairest way.) Then one gentleman came up and I gave him his bread with a smile. Then he said that he hoped me doing this made me feel good about myself. It unnerved me the way he said it with such contempt.
I was devestated. I want to help more but just leaving the house is monumental for me at times. See I made an incorrect assumption that the persons having a free lunch would be overly appreciative and he made an assumption about me and my life. We both were wrong.
My husband and I ended up losing all that we had owned and left our house for the last time with no where to go. Luckily our amazing friends and family gave us money for gas and food. We mostly slept in our vehicle or in a tent over the course of several weeks. Even at that point, we were still much better off than a lot of people. But my sense of empathy grew as this experience unfolded.
So what is the answer? God tells us to give and it makes no difference what happens after that. We are called to give, we do and end of story. If the gift is misappropriated, that person will deal with the consequences. How about when we treat someone right and they do not treat us the same way back? We did the right thing and we cannot control how the other person reacts.
So basically we are called to live by the Golden Rule. To treat others as we would want to be treated. It doesn’t say to only treat nice people like that. Or only rich people. Or only ____ (fill in the blank). We are called to treat others, all others.
The concept is extremely clear to me but I am so easily hurt. I am ashamed to say it but it is the absolute truth. So infractions on the rule cause my heart to harden. I get jaded. I see all my silent pain and I lose a bit of my humanity. But that’s not my calling in life.
I sometimes forget that my story isn’t the only story and that every one of us has a story. I have to remember my pain is meant to make me stronger and better. I need to remember that when I was below rock bottom (my own doing or not) that I had many loving hands outreached to help me up. I have to remember God doesn’t want us jaded and judgemental. He wants us to have love in our heart even in a cruel and evil world.
If those situations were to come up again, I would hope that I would react differently. I also hope that if I saw a need I would run to help fill it. I have lived in my private bubble too long. I need to remember that my actions reflect on me and others reactions do not reflect on me. I need to start doing the right thing and discard my fear of rejection and jaded assumptions.
Life is so hard. The determinations we make in almost every circumstance determine our character. I want a strong character. And I want to treat others the way I want to be treated regardless of whether it happens or not.