Monday, December 22, 2008


How can you identify when some one is "deserving?" When do people really tell if someone deserves something or not?

For example, the other day my friend had free tickets to the circus so we decided to go (she brought her kid but there were only two tickets and her child was under three--the acceptable age). On our way to the tent at Lincoln Center we passed this woman up the street from the temple. She was begging for money. Her looks still haunt me --she was wearing a black and white jacket (like the old high school jackets--minus the logo), a black hat, she had a black hat on with the hood of the jacket. Her nose was running and her eyes the epitome of pleading as she plead for money.

Wayne and I decided awhile ago that if that happened we would give them the place to go--like the homeless shelter--and food if they would take it, but not money (because we don't have much). I have only ever walked by those places and I really don't know what they look like inside--are they scary?

This question seems to replay itself over and over in my mind with the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 56:15:

Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved?

What is the definition of "rich?" I am rich in blessings. I have a place to stay warm, sleep, and lock myself and my family in for the night. I have food enough for our family and perhaps some to share. We have clothing that may not be the utmost in style but fill our needs well and beyond. How do I share? Should I have given money? Should I have given the popcorn/candy stored in my purse (which the circus allowed in)?

After the circus we saw a man outside a fancy apartment building and a Rite Aid covering himself in some plastic and paper bags to sleep. He had a box sitting in front of him with a bit of red velvet and some pennies and dimes sprinkled in it? What could I have done for him?

What would the Savior have done? Reached out to the lowly, given what he had, comforted, consoled, offered love? In my head my brain calculates risks--will I or those with me be completely safe? Before I had children I feel confident I would have risked my life for almost any of God's children, but now that I am needed in every capacity could I do that?

Am I deserving? Am I satisfactory? Am I showing my love for the Lord acceptably? What could I have done more?

The pictures are of an exhibit in the World Financial Center. This was exhibits of canned food portraying wiping out hunger. Most had witty sayings. Then all the food was donated after the exhibit. I was absolutely amazed. Boy are we blessed!


Camille said...

You know, I really struggle with this as well. In fact, the biggest lesson I am trying to learn in my current calling is the answer to this dilemma. The first year of my calling was plagued by frustration, concern, and confusion. I felt like people are lazy and want free handouts with out giving anything in return. Then I had a wonderful VT companion who shared the message one month on caring for the poor and needy. She shared an experience of being approached by someone in Salt Lake who asked her for money. She had nothing with her, but she confesses she wouldn't have given it anyway. As she walked the face haunted her so she quickly went to her car grabbed the little change she had and returned. she couldn't find the woman anywhere. She said she felt it was a test for her. She determined that from then on she would give whatever she had that she could give. Change, bills, food, offers of help. Anything to at least try and help. Then she said this, "I realized that even if they didn't really 'need' the money, I wouldn't be worse off for giving to them." I tried to take that approach from then on and this year I found a lot of joy, especially this Christmas. I had the opportunity of providing Christmas for families in need using consecrated funds. There were moments when I thought that we should probably be on the list based on conditions I saw, but I stopped myself and reminded my ego that we would be better people for helping, and hopefully they would too. I still don't have all the answers, but I learned that I needed to be more generous. It's hard to do when you have so little yourself, but it sure does feel better and the Lord watches out for you. My bishop told me that when someone asked President Monson if there were anything he would've done differently as a bishop he responded, "I would have been more generous." I think you guys are great! I am so excited you got a piano!!! I hope the hair sale goes well. I thought of The Gift of the Magi when I read that! :)

vdg family said...

Thanks Camille! That meant a lot ot me. Once when W and I lived in Manhattan there was a woman who told us she was desperately trying to get out of town to her daughter and that she never had been there (Manhattan) before. So we gave her some money and we saw her again a few days later--she pretended not to see us. I guess that kind of burned me so I have been less reticent to give since then.

Chelise said...

Mel- you bring up such a good and difficult point. What do you do? I love the way you analyzed and developed it- in lieu of the scriptures. Constant dilemma :)

Love you!