Oh there’s two chapters about giving. I really should read ahead sometimes. I wrapped up my thoughts on chapter eight so neatly.
Here it’s tempting to accuse Paul of cynicism, because he sort of speaks with forked tongue.
He says how they should just give what they feel like giving, only what is in their hearts. The lord loves a cheerful giver.
But then he anticipates how wonderfully generous they will be, how much joy and blessing will flow from them giving so much. He even sends two “brothers” in advance of the collection to “finish the arrangements” so he’s not “embarrassed”. How cheerful! An offer they can’t refuse!
Maybe Paul’s a bit on the spectrum… trouble with empathy and can’t see the bind he’s put them in? Who knows, but he’s for real, not cynical, I’m sure. For me the last verse clinches it: “thanks to God for his indescribable gift”
When Paul thinks about the explosion of blessing, of powerful grace, released by Christian giving: to the recipients, to the givers, to all the saints and to the world who see what God can do, words fail him.
Paul stuck for words. Truly amazing Grace!
I’ve been struggling a bit with this Christian selflessness, this beautiful generous idea that you simply live for others and God has you in his hands.
My family is freaking out about the risk of the disability support work I’ve been doing.
I had a really scary experience last Friday with a new client my agency said would be much easier than the young boy I usually support.
It became a pretty terrifying 4 hours alone with this 35 year old guy who was having a paranoid delusion that he was on the verge of being arrested by the police. He barricaded the door of his government-supplied house, got a bit drunk and kept taking my phone from me (he didn’t have one himself). Things we’re going ok-ish but got dark when I reminded him that my shift ended at 7. How could I abandon him! He broke my glasses and hit me in the ear, perforating the drum.
I was eventually rescued by his boxing teacher who knows him better. He took him off to a psych ward. I don’t know if I just encountered a bad day or I made it a bad day by my inexperience, but it wasn’t great.
For good measure he is a religious fanatic, we connected over Christianity. Though he ended up looking at the skies and asking God why I had been sent to him.
So my family have some reason for concern. My company made a major blunder sending me there. I need to think about my choices carefully, and work with people i can trust.
That’s the rational bit I must hold onto. To process the event last Friday coolly. It’s helpful for my family to remind me how valuable I am to them. I may be happy to court risk on my behalf, but it effects them too.
But for me this bible passage also confronts the spiritual and emotional aftermath of that traumatising event.
My last redundancy was also traumatising, as these blog entries testify! I remember making a choice, a different one for me, when it happened. I chose to nurse it, to feel sorry for myself.
I felt unfairly treated, actually attacked. But I knew the process was sewn up. Protesting it would only sound banal. If course I wouldn’t like losing my job, who doesn’t? But that’s life, move on.
So I protested by refusing to play the game any more. If you are gaslighted, if you feel you are the only sane person in an insane world, you and reality go different paths. Well, not as dramatically for me as that sounds. But to an extent.
That choice not to trust God in moving on from trauma, but to nurture a victim status is personal, and often justified. It’s a tricky thing say for yourself when or if it turns into disobedience to God. You can almost never say it for others, in my opinion.
An aspect of obedience for me may even be a self destructive element to accepting risk. Perhaps subconsciously I’m making some sort of stupid statement? Announcing to the universe, as if it cares, that the vulnerability I feel trying to participate in the corporate white collar world is more risky for me than being beaten up by a crazy person.
I wrote to work after Friday and cancelled my scheduled Saturday shift, saying I was too traumatised. Then I told them, no, I don’t see him as a long term client. Fair enough.
But I don’t want to be emotionally overwhelmed by trauma, so it becomes a thing. I feel I did that with the redundancy, and it’s not good.
I do feel a bit like my optimism, my generosity, keeps being pummelled. Where’s the bit where if I do right by God, God does right by me?
But that’s a mindset, there is choice as to whether you count your blessings or you count your grievances.
The Lord loves a cheerful giver!