"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Monday, August 5, 2013

What If They Don't Deserve It?

Due to recent economic factors there are many people struggling to make it financially. More people are going to food banks. More people are falling behind in bills It can be rough for people who made it just fine a few short years ago.

My family is exceptionally blessed with abundance. My husband makes a good living and his work is steady.We feel the squeeze of  increased food and energy prices but with a few cuts, we are doing okay. I want my children to understand we live a life of abundance. I am gently teaching them not all families have the privileges we do. They are learning not all families can even cover the basics.

Compassion, love of others, and doing good where we can are important lessons in our home. I don't care to raise obedient children but truly loving children. We talk about these things a lot. My 5 year old is quite perspective and insightful. She gets things. Her ability to sense underlying currents recently led to an crucial lesson for us all.

There are many people on the road ways with signs. They are say they are hungry. They say they have nothing. Is that true? I have no idea. I am not comfortable giving money for a variety of reasons. I have meant to put together some bags containing toiletries,granola bars, nuts, gloves or sunscreen (depending on the season), etc. but well, I haven't. I have two little kids and sometimes getting everyone's teeth brushed is a victory to be celebrated. So I will go to a local fast food place and buy a value meal with the condiments on the side to give to the person we saw. This is a great opportunity to talk to my children about generosity and caring for others.

Normally the food is received with gratitude and thanks. Recently, we had a different experience. He didn't want the food. He wanted money. He was insistent about it. Why? I don't know and I am not going to even go there if I can help it. I told him, I don't have money but I have food. Take it or don't. He grudgingly took it and we left.

Hannah was....concerned. She understood something was not normal. Why didn't he just take the food and say thank you? As I sat there fighting with the anger and resentment trying to take over my mood I realized it was an amazing opportunity to teach her something important and to remind myself. I believe that what you put out there is what you get back. I believe in what comes around goes around. I believe in karma.

So we talked about sometimes people don't appreciate or don't want the generosity we are offering. Maybe they just want what they want. I also told her that charity can be really hard to accept and some people act poorly because they are sad and embarrassed. But most importantly I told her none of it matters. Our karma is what we do. Their karma is what they do. We are responsible for our own. We see a need and we try our best to meet it with the best of intentions. That is all we can ever do. How it is received is out of our control. No matter what, we need to learn to have a peaceful heart and continue on to the next opportunity to do good.

This goes for so many situations. I run most Saturday mornings with a group. Our route passes by a heavily used food pantry. The people line up HOURS before it opens to get food. I have noticed some of the cars are a lot nicer than they were in the past, nicer than mine, and the quality of clothes are much better. It could be human nature to assume they are cheating the system to get something free. But we cannot know their stories. There is a good chance the trappings of their life are from a former life they can no longer afford. Maybe their high paying job disappeared over night due to the company going bankrupt. Maybe they made horrible choices with their mortgage and are now so house poor they can't feed their children. Maybe they are total scammers and want it for free when they easily could afford.

Doesn't matter, it is not our place to judge. Not only is it not our place, I would venture to say it is unhealthy and detrimental for us to judge. What will it really do? Will it punish them? Nope. Will it make them change their ways? Nope. What it will do is fill our heart with anger and resentment. Those feelings will burn through our good health and well being, scorching the peace and equinimity from our hearts and spirits.

Our karma is our karma. Their karma is their karma. We are responsible for our own.

A lesson I am teaching my children and learning myself each and every day.