Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting with a young woman who wanted to meet with me to say thank-you for the help that we, as a church, have provided for her. What we were able to do, thanks to the Ida Webster Fund and the generosity of members, was in fact pretty small in the scheme of things. However, it has made a huge difference for her.
Why Are You Helping Me?
We met for coffee at a local café and spent an hour or so sharing in conversation. During that time she trusted me with even more of her story and I was indeed blessed. After we had talked for a while I was able to mention a few things that might help her out spiritually and I told her that I would also make sure that she had a good pair of winter boots. That was when she began to cry. I remained silent for a bit. After she composed herself she looked at me and asked
“Why are you helping me?”
Those five words floored me. I wasn’t sure what to say. Her question came from a place of deep pain, of not really experiencing gifts like this from a stranger before, and from genuinely wanting to know why I would be bothered to do this. After a minute I said
“because this is what my faith and my heart tell me I need to do”.
“But why me?” she asked.
I responded “because you have allowed me to enter your story and because I can. I can’t always help everyone and I can’t do everything that needs to be done, but I can do this.”
The Generosity of Strangers
I could tell from the look on her face that she was still uncertain and really couldn’t understand. At that moment my phone sounded and there was a message from my daughter, Terri. She was in Montreal with her son, Riley and she sent me pictures of Riley’s new braces. I showed the picture to the woman with whom I was visiting and I shared a bit of my story and that of my daughter’s. I told her that if it had not been for the generosity of strangers my daughter’s journey over the past number of years would have been almost impossible. I told her that others have been there for her when I wasn’t able to be and that this is also part of why I wanted to help her.
“Someday, when you are able, I have no doubt that you will do the same for someone else.”
After our coffee time I dropped her back to her apartment and I set out for another visit. Her story remains and will remain with me and her question rings in my ears
“Why are you helping me?”
Jesus and His Ministry
I began to think about Jesus and his ministry – the people he touched, healed, held and transformed. But what kept surfacing for me is that conversation when Jesus was asked
“Which commandment is the most important of all?”
29 Jesus answered, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
31 The second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
If we are able to take this simple rule and open ourselves to love as we love ourselves then imagine what a world we would live in!!!
Many of us live in places of great privilege and economic stability while so many others do not. Why should we help? I think the answer is simple “Because we can!”
© 2018 Rev. Valerie Peyton Kingsbury. All rights reserved