Friday, October 2, 2009

A Church Community

Based on the response to People Don't Know, I feel like I need to clarify. Church giving had very little to do with the post, but I will share a little more about my past to demonstrate my position.

Shortly after my husband and I got married, we started attending the church he grew up in. Everyone there knew and loved him and readily accepted me. They threw me a baby shower with my first pregnancy.

They had a food pantry there that was for visiting missionaries. We had recently gotten out of Bible college and knew our journey to ministry was not over. That food pantry was always open to us. We never took from it, as we didn't need it, but we were never offended by the fact that we were welcome to it.

As we grew closer to families in the church, there was an open exchange. My best friend at the church had a boy one year older than ours. Their economic situation was a little more desperate than ours, but I never had a problem with taking outgrown pants or a booster seat, which we still use to this day.

A friend and I were talking about house cleaning. I told her my broom handle had recently snapped and how funny I looked crawling around on the floor. She said she had just gotten a new broom and offered me her old one, still in good shape. I was real thankful, as I was pregnant at the time and crawling while I swept was a little awkward.

We would have people over for dinner and others would have us over in return. It was a fairly close knit community, especially among the most active members. One friend always picked up stuff from the thrift store for my son. It was not because she thought we were poor. She got stuff for my son because she loved us and loved our son.

There is a difference between a gift of love and a gift that is not of love. As I wrote about in People Don't Know, we have been offered gifts that didn't feel like they were in love. They felt like a duty, and we are not comfortable with those gifts.


Sheila said...

I'm glad you clarified this. I am in a financially good situation and am friends (close friends) with some who are not. If I give them things, it is out of love, certainly not duty. Your first post kind of made me wonder if I have possibly offended. I do understand the difference between giving from duty and giving from love. When my friends whose economic situation is worse than mind offer me a gift, I accept it with love. I know that it's from the heart, just as I hope that they know my gifts are. You do not have to be economically the same to have true friendship.

Culinary Science Investigator said...

I'm sorry, but this post, to me, makes you seem even less grateful to and more judgmental of the other people at the other church. I'm sorry, but that's just how I feel.

Devon said...

I'm just going to add the thought that perhaps, while it felt forced, maybe you were helping someone else towards a greater discipleship. Our nurse lends me her car so I can do errands sometimes, and I was pretty uncomfortable with it until she told me that she is commanded to share, and if people refuse to receive, how can she give?

I admit I am still having a hard time seeing your point...we have been recipients of church giving, though we sure as heck don't need it, but then again, I habe always felt the love in their giving. I don't know...maybe I'd feel differently if I didn't feel the love behind if it were an obligation. I don't know.

Interesting post.

Laura said...

I don't know. I can't help but read this post and sense some back pedaling from your other post.

I just still don't get it. Even if you can afford 2 turkeys, why not accept another turkey that's being given to you?

People giving does not = pity. It seems that's more YOUR problem, than there's.

I can't help but wonder if someone in your new church, a church you love and your heart is in, were to offer you a gift, money, a turkey- what would you do? Would you question their reason for giving or accept it with an open and thankful heart? I understand you don't want much in your life- that's fine. That's admirable. But why deny your kids one more turkey dinner? Or one more winter coat (if someone were to give them one)? It truly boggles my mind to turn away such gifts of kindness and Christian love.

And why does it matter if "they don't know?" or if they know? Are you ashamed of your poverty? You certainly don't seem like it. It seems to me you're one the most humble and honest people living in poverty in this country. Emily--I am a new reader. I sort of stumbled across this blog and I enjoy reading it. You are one strong woman. We have nothing in common, really. But I really appreciate you putting your life out there for all to learn from. Thank you.

Deidra said...

I just want to say that in all my years of reading blog posts, I have NEVER read so many judgmental comments. It just floors me that so many people feel like they know you well enough to condemn you for so many of the things you share...even though they have not walked in your shoes. Even when you try to clarify and explain (which by the way, you are not even required to do), people still tend to not understand and it seems that sometimes they just want to see you in a bad light.

There is a place for honest feedback, but I don't understand why all of these folks think that it's okay to pick apart everything you say. If a spotlight were to be shined on most people's lives, we could ALL find fault somewhere, but that is not what this blog is about.

Y'all please...give her a break. She is sharing her life, her ideas, and her heart with us. I just don't think that she should have to defend every statement that she makes.


Emily said...

Laura, I think that is an excellent question, if we were offered something from our new church, would we accept it? If it were something we don't need and couldn't use, like a third winter coat for our baby, I would explain we simply don't need it and I didn't want to take it only to redonate it to a thrift store in a few months, but I wouldn't question them for giving. If it were something we could use, I would accept it, as I am convinced these people do love us and are not looking down on us. We were new to the other church and quickly bombarded.

It doesn't matter whether or not people know. I asked if people had questions they wanted me to address in this blog, and one was what other people thought of our frugal lifestyle, so I wrote this post in response.

Deidra, thank you.

Anonymous said...

There is a word that some of you need introduced to, it's called discernment. Emily you were so wise to move to a different church and find like-minded people to fellowship with! It would have been so difficult and draining to continue on with people who do not understand you.
Unfortunately we felt the same thing you did at one point of our lives. You can feel the difference when someone gives out of love vs. duty/pity. On paper/post it looks harmless and you may question Emily's refusal of a gift, but there is more to it than that. In person you see, hear, and feel the emotions and motives of the other person.
Besides, in order to effectively help people you have to get to know them. Doling out a gift to someone just to make yourself feel better about their situation is arrogant and prideful. The best gift anyone can give is to be a friend first!


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