Hello everyone and compliments of the season. It really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas (just a couple of days away).I have not been blogging consistently but it has been a hectic few months.I must also admit that i went into full procrastinating/perfectionist mode as I just kept waiting for something ‘deep’ to write about. But nothing seemed to be ‘perfect’ enough to warrant an article.
Until I read an article this weekend that really got me thinking.So instead of just pondering out loud on my Instagram stories ( if you follow me on Instagram you will know what I am talking about ) I thought to myself ‘Yay-Blog post!’
The blog is called ‘life thru my lenses’ after all .
Its that time of year when a lot of people are extra generous or even remember the less privileged.I know a lot of people moan about how commercial Christmas has become (I am one of those people) and how it’s lost it’s meaning. Through it all though one thing that has endured is the GIVING spirit.People are very generous in spirit regardless of whether or not they view Christmas through the lens of faith.
So back to said article ,it asked a question I want anyone reading this to also challenge themselves with;
‘What is your instinctive reaction when you see someone in need and how do you respond to them?
You know the homeless person in the street, the children in the orphanage,the woman who approached you for some money to buy her babies nappies on the street corner etc.
A further challenge was ‘what is your mindset towards the recipient of your gift?’
Poverty and need manifests in different forms. So I had to challenge myself to think of who and how I think of those I class as ‘in need’.It also made me pause and think about how i position myself when I give to others. Is the default position how it makes me feel about myself or the fact that i am the channel through which God is meeting the need of another human being?
It’s important to remember when we serve and give to others that we allow them retain their dignity and honour. It’s not just about sending groceries, clothes,toys or a plate of hot food .It’s also equally valuable if we do it with love and compassion. We should desire to accord those who might seem less privileged than us the same respect that we would want to be accorded.
Practically,here are few ways that I think we can give while maintaining the dignity of the person/people we are giving to;
1.Don’t just drop the gift and leave. Say ‘hello and how are you’ smile,nod anything no matter how small to acknowledge the humanity of the person you are giving to.This is especially when we give to the homeless.I know I have been guilty of this. I set out to give to the homeless in the winter but subconsciously hoped that the people I would give to would be asleep so I wouldn’t have to talk to them .This is strangely at odds with my belief that all human beings are created in the image of God. Yes life happens to people (sometimes self inflicted) but it does not mean that their value diminishes. Yes it might seem daunting especially if they look dirty or rough. And if I am being realistic,yes sometimes it could be dangerous.It is wise not to put yourself in dangerous situations but my challenge here is to challenge our bias that assumes every homeless person is dangerous,an addict or did something that means they deserve to be in that position.
2. Give a thoughtful gift .In simple terms give a gift that you would like to receive. I think there is something to be said about the thought behind a gift that should not take precedence over the value of it. We all love to recieve a ‘nice’ thoughtful’ things. While I know ‘nice things’ is relative concept but nothing speaks more to valuing the dignity of a person than the thought you put into picking out a gift for them. I think about how much thought I put into buying a gift for people I look up to. You know the ‘person who has everything?’ Well maybe I could direct some of that energy into getting a gift for those who have nothing.
3.If giving as part of an organised charity drive,individually etc practising discretion with how this is broadcast especially on social media .I say this knowing that I might have been guilty of this in the past.I know sometimes publicity is required to raise funding especially if you are trying to get others to give as well.And a lot of charities/charity drives use pictures to prove to donors that the funds have been spent judiciously. But I am beginning to think we can be a bit more sensitive with how we do this and not go down the slippery slope of ‘poverty porn’.I live in the UK and privacy laws are a big thing.Most people take offence when their pictures are spread all over the internet without their permission. If it’s seen as a breach of privacy in any other context,why can’t the same be applied to publicising charity acts. Maybe we can also ask reciepients of our generosity the following?
a) permission to take their picture
b) permission to use their pictures on social media,media platforms etc
And if even they do give us permission for the above maybe we can challenge ourselves on the motives for why we think this has to be publicised.If the motives for publicity are the right one (which they can be as previously noted)I still think there needs to be some sort of sensitivity that allows recipients of charity to retain their dignity.
Again just pause and imagine how we would feel if we were in that position. How would you want to be treated?
I know I have repeated the word ‘dignity’ a lot in this post .But the core thrust of my message is treating others how we would want to be treated. It is one of the core values that I try to hold myself to.So I am challenging myself and ask you to join me in giving the gift of dignity this season.
This is most likely my last post of the year,so wanted to use this opportunity to thank your for reading this blog. Flexing my writing muscle was a goal for me in 2019 .All of your encouragement and kind words has made it a really pleasant journey.I am very grateful and appreciative of the love. Thank you again!
Here’s wishing you a very merry Christmas and a prosperous 2020.
Quote Picture credits:
Youversion Bible App