I am the executive director of a nonprofit organization that helps women in crisis, namely pregnant and single mothers with small children. These women sometimes come from extremely difficult situations like serious domestic abuse. My nonprofit, called Loveline, will step in and help these women with their immediate needs with the extraordinary generosity of our supporters.
But what does it mean to be generous, to love, to be charitable? Does it mean giving only of your excess and expecting a pat on the back? I think you know that answer.
One of our momma’s told me recently, “I don’t want to be anyone’s charity case.” When I asked her if she knew what the word charity meant in the Bible and she said, “No ma’am.” Charity is love. When we love, when we offer what we have for the betterment of another, it may hurt a bit.
I think the questions that need to be asked are – can you love too much? Can you be too generous?
Giving the best we have
At Loveline, we often make needs known to our supporters using social media, creating a baby registry so if people want to help, they can easily purchase something and have it sent. A lot of what we ask for are things so that many of us enjoy to make mothering easier and would be extremely helpful for the mommas we are serving.
People are incredibly generous and so many times, the registries will sell out in less than an hour. It’s amazing.
But then we also get a lot of feedback from the people who aren’t being generous. They say that we are “doing too much” by purchasing new items such as swings, cribs, bouncers, strollers, car seats, and more. People chime in making sure they are heard loudly in the comment section directly under her registry, explaining how some of these items are “too expensive” and could be found “in thrift shops” or “second hand stores”.
And they are right. These items can be found in thrift stores.
But here’s the thing: a momma who just fled a domestically abusive husband with four kids in tow and another on the way doesn’t need to be digging through your used stuff at a second hand store to try to salvage something that might be decent enough for her children.
And no, she shouldn’t “be grateful that she’s alive” and just “take what she can get”.
The stress of catching the three buses to get across town to that thrift store with four babies under five years old trucking behind her while pregnant is exhausting. Can she do it? Definitely! Would she do it? Of course! But does she have to? Absolutely not.
Generosity allows the recipient to have their dignity restored and so much more. That momma is suffering in ways you and I know nothing about. But we want to help. She needs to be seen, to be served, and to be loved.
She needs to have her dignity restored, to feel worthy, to feel equal, to feel like a human being.
Love makes people feel equal.
When we are generous, we are loving. We aren’t throwing our leftovers to someone who already feels like they are a “charity case.” To give generously helps to show that charity truly means love. We were designed by God, whose very essence is love, and made in His image and likeness – this is what we were made to do.
Love is action
We are told that people will know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ by our love for one another. Love is not an emotion. Love is a verb.
When we want to express love and make it tangible, it shows itself best in charity. By throwing a love feast for people who cannot do anything for you, for people who cannot repay you in any way, for people who are unseen, unheard, and underserved.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta was an extraordinary example of love and generosity. She gave everything she had, all the love of God working in her, to people who could never repay her. She once wisely said, “Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.”
So the next time we put up a registry for a momma on LoveLine’s Facebook page, go in there and drop some love bombs. Or find your favorite nonprofit who is doing the stuff and providing real help in real time for people.
Be generous. It’s such an attractive attribute. We’re just asking you to love others as you would like to be loved.