I used to think that you had to have money to help people. That because I didn't have much extra to give I was never giving enough. I would day dream about the amazing things I could do for other people if I was super wealthy. I knew that money could be a powerful resource to change lives and I wanted to be able to do that, but then I was taught something different.
Life lead me on a path that made me realize there was more to charity than handing out money.
Just out of pure bad luck our family experienced an extended period of unemployment. It came at a time that felt demoralizing. Just weeks before this period we were making big plans for our future and even decided it was time to expand our family. I often complained about the frustrations of our circumstance but I also knew how blessed we were. Although this time was difficult we were fortunate to have family and friends that helped us to provide for the necessities of our small, but growing family. And it was during this time, that I learned some valuable lessons about charity and what it means to really help someone.
I learned that although it was very helpful and appreciated to receive monetary donations, it was the times when others perceived our needs, often before we even knew them, that meant the most. For example, because of my being pregnant, I at times didn't feel well. Not only did I not feel like making dinner but I would feel depressed that we couldn't afford to eat out so that I wouldn't have to cook. There were several times when I would be thinking this, that a friend would drop by dinner or offer to feed my kids. I hadn't said any of these feelings to them (they didn't even know I was pregnant for a large part of it) yet there they were, answering an inner plea. At other times there were friends who made it a point to keep me involved in extra activities that I otherwise could not do. They helped me stay active by frequently offering to accompany me on runs or trips to the gym. People would call, text or visit at times when I needed them most. It was amazing the number of times that they would offer just the encouragement or help we needed, when we needed it.
In my personal beliefs I believe in a God who has equipped us with the companion of the Holy Spirit to know His will and I know that these people were answering those promptings, but I also believe that part of the reason they were able to do this was because they built a relationship with me and my family.
They looked beyond our monetary need and saw that there were other ways to serve us. If they had only known of us and our circumstance then it would have been more difficult for them to readily perceive a need to fulfill. While we are sometimes able to understand some of the pains someone might be experiencing because of our own personal experience with similar challenges, it is impossible to truly know what they're experiencing without getting to know them.
So if you ever find yourself wondering about a specific person and thinking about how you can help them, start by getting to know them. It might take work but I am certain you will find the exact way they need to be served.
Now I do not want this to seem like I am saying that unless you know a person you can't really help them. Not at all. I know that there are many instances of strangers helping strangers. And that can be just as powerful and meaningful. I've had personal experiences of that myself. In fact, I believe that those times and experiences are promptings from God, urging us to get to know each other. I believe God doesn't really want there to be such a thing as a stranger.
He wants us all to see each other as He does. His creations, His children. That is what true charity is.
I read a beautiful post written by Melissa Bradford Dalton (that I highly recommend reading because she explains it all so beautifully) who once shared something her deceased son taught her in a dream.
He said, "every relationship is to bring us to God".
Every relationship. We're talking from your eternal spouse to the person who cut you off on the road today. All of these relationships are just opportunities for us to become like our loving Heavenly Father. They are all opportunities to exercise charity, the pure love of Christ.
So although desires to help people through donations are good and honorable. The true offering comes from the relationships we strive to build. The connections we try and create with others. That is true charity.
I know it may sound cheesy but my hope is that Daisy May can provide women with the opportunity to foster such charity. That we can build relationships that foster love and kindness to everyone.