Every month an amount of money is withdrawn from our account for our tithe. In May, the post office can pick up a bag of food from my porch for their Stamp Out Hunger Campaign. I have shoveled my neighbor’s drive in a snow storm because they are older and fighting cancer. I have trained the security guards at the post office to smile and say good morning to me because I always greet them with the same salutation. Truly. It sometimes catches me off guard when I am sleepy or distracted.
I make an effort. I try.
In today’s world, my effort could teach me that I am entitled to only good things. Many churches, not one that I attend, would say that my tithe will grant me blessings for my stewardship. Smile and the whole world smiles with you. Give and you shall receive. If only it were all that simple.
I had a small window of awfulness in my childhood. I often, feel like Sade when she sings, “I feel like I have paid for all of my future sins.” Even though the majority of my life has been good, I too fight feelings of entitlement.
I have a friend who spends most of his time serving refugees. He has worked with agencies, greeted them at airports and advocated for them within the Michigan Darfur Coalition. He has kept pulling me back into the advocacy work even when I am convinced I can’t do anymore. When he is not watching Tigers games he is sending emails to get us organized for our next conference call or reminding me to write that thing I forgot about.
I have a friend who just died of cancer today.
Chuck has been battling cancer for a while now but I have been avoiding the issue. It’s cancer. I mean, he’ll get treatment and I will see him at our next meeting. Last week he went into hospice and even the most unrealistic person would have to accept the reality of the situation. I am full of sorrow. He was the inspiration for seeking and posting great causes on my fan page.
Part of the sorrow is the entitlement. This is not fair. Chuck is the last person, the very last, to deserve this. So many have benefited from his care and his hard work. His mother raised a wonderful son. We were all gifted a wonderful friend.
I am an adult and any ideas of entitlement that may have taken shape have been slowly sloughed away by reality. Life is not going to be perfect, blessed or highly favored because you give. There will be some of that but life will be hard, full of loss and sadness too. Maybe we were all entitled to a few years with Chuck. That was our gift for our service and I, for one, will never forget him.
The Michigan Darfur Coalition, where Chuck worked as the Communications and West Michigan Coordinator, has renamed the fund he established. It is now called the Charlton Breen Refugee Assistance Program Fund (RAPF). Before Chuck passed away he was told that this is the way that we would honor him and that we would continue to work to help the New Americans that come to us. Stop by and read about it. If compelled, make a donation. You are entitled to share in Chucks’ love for the people of Darfur. I hope you can recognize his great effort and are inspired and changed by it.
This is how we beat back the sorrow and the feelings of unfairness. We honor.
Peace and Grace