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I am still not sure how I feel about giving. I know that anonymous giving really makes me feel good. I know that giving gifts to friends for birthdays or Christmas also makes me feel good.
Giving sparked by love is good.
Giving sparked by guilt or pity is not good.
Resentful giving is the worst.
We all have to take a stance on giving. Who do we give to? How much do we give? When do we give? Why do we give?
I’ve resisted giving anything tangible to anyone in Goma for five months. People ask me for things all the time, and I say no to everyone, everyday. And I’m just now beginning to question exactly why I’ve maintained such a strict stance on NOT giving. Most days I feel good about it, but with Christmas rapidly approaching… I’m not so sure anymore.
I know that in the beginning, I didn’t want to give stuff to people because I didn’t want people constantly asking me for things. So after a while, people stop asking for the most part… which is kind of nice. I visit schools and hang out with street kids and don’t have to worry that they only want to be around me because I’ll give them stuff. But now I’m asking myself- isn’t this kind of shallow? They really do need stuff. A lot of them really are starving. A lot of them really do need new/clean clothes… And I certainly have the means to be generous. So is the only thing stopping me the fact that I want them to see me differently than other Muzungus?
Everyone wants to be liked, right? Is it bad that I don’t want to give because I want people to like me for being me, for chatting with them, for getting to know each other… and not for being a Muzungu that constantly gives handouts? I’m not really sure.
A lot of people give. They’ll buy bread for the street kids or give tshirts to the hospital kids. It’s good and it’s nice and it’s admirable and I’m not inherently against it… yet I continue to refuse to participate.
And this does not go unnoticed. The street kids call me a word in Swahili that I don’t know the exact meaning of, but I’m pretty sure it’s along the lines of selfish and cheap. I get it at least once a week, but hearing it two days before Christmas really got me thinking about it all. I wonder- is there a way that I could put them to work? Doing something to earn some bread or earn some new clothes? What skills might they have? What if they don’t have any skills? Do I have any skills? Could I teach them something and then hire them to work? Maybe if I moved to a house and needed a gate guard, one of them could be my gate guard? Maybe if… Maybe if…
And then I think- why the heck am I making things so complicated? If I’m being “tempted” to give… why am I resisting so much?
I have no answers now, but hope to un-complicate things soon.
I just might need Jesus for this one.