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I "witnessed" at church today as part of our budget drive kickoff. As communications chair I was filling a gap -- we needed testimonials about personal giving decisions -- but I also discuss grieving and receiving.
Good morning. I’m a New Yorker, and I don’t know how I survived the first 21 years of my life without the phrase “you all.” “You,” plural, just doesn’t cut it.
You all have heard me speak up here many times at Joys and Sorrows, and at other times. You all listened as many things in my life went down: My husband got sicker, and sicker. He received the first miracle drug, then the second. He got even sicker. I faced parenting challenges. I had difficulty at work and with finances. You were here for me when he died. And you were here for the memorial service, as well as when I coped with the decline of my mother-in-law over the next year and a half. And then, you were here for me when she died.
And you all were also here for the upswing, which was also slow and muddled, although no one will ever tell you so: You listened when I started dating, you heard my wacky dating stories. You heard me as I coped with my daughter’s severe food allergy, and transitions to day care and then preschool. And then when I married.
You all offered something appropriate at each step – and often it was something surprising, that I wouldn’t expect. You listened, you let me cry and sing. You cooked or cleaned or let me off the hook. You provided a playdate on a rainy day. You kept an eye on me and my daughter. You gave me advice – mostly solicited – on parenting, eldercare, dating, even on what to do with my hair (I didn’t really listen on that last one so much).
I thought of myself as very needy. But that wasn’t it. Now that I’ve come out the other side I can say that I was learning to ask, and to receive. I had been afraid to need, but need led me to abundance, community, and love.
Now I want this church, also, to learn what it’s like to receive – what it’s like to not struggle and work hard all the time. We shouldn’t have to cut back on our dreams because of dealing with the day-to-day.
Yes, it’s about “needs.” Needs are things that are necessary, but they are also met – satisfied, fulfilled, full. “Meeting” means so much. Many of us in this room have met. And we all hope to find a helpmeet, a partner, someone fitting our lives, to work with side-by-side.
If I think now about those heavy times I went through, what was the fulcrum, what turned the switch and transformed needing to receiving?
It was the ASK. This church is learning how to ask, just as you all taught me. How does one ask? I found it is essential to be specific. I’m a practical person and I like numbers and visuals. I find it handy to refer to this little chart and line up my income level with how I feel about this beloved community. I can see what a suitable gift would be, one that meets the needs. This guide was so helpful, as I’d never been a member of a church before or made this kind of gift. And I think the first year we made a very small one. But as I understood the chart, I planned to move onto it, and I did.
This year I lost my job, but I plan to still stay on the chart. It’s based on percentages, so even at a lower income I can maintain or even go up a level.
Please think about what you, too, all of you, have received here. Think about the proportion of your love that comes in the door. What this time means in your week. Would this place be here for you if you had stronger needs? Has it already helped? Maybe you were able to make a difference for someone else. Listen to your heart, and then see what you can do to get on that chart. Respond with the generosity you’ve seen in this beloved community.
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