Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014 Nancy Virden
Do you remember the acrostic we did in school to celebrate America’s Thanksgiving Day? “T stands for tomato because I like tomatoes,” “H stands for history class because I like Mr. Snode,” and so on? Did you learn anything about gratitude that way?
There’s a famous account of a woman who had only two tiny coins to her name. She gave them to a good cause. Standing nearby were rich men who donated oodles of money to support the same cause. An observer noticed and said, “That woman gave more than all the rich men because they offered how much would not threaten their comfort. She gave up everything she had to live on.”
Why do you suppose she did that? Do you agree with the observer’s assessment?
Another often repeated story is of a wealthy young man who held a place of power in society. He happened also to be very religious, and was concerned with the afterlife. He searched for, and found, a famous teacher to whom he could ask his questions. Yet this materialistic young man walked away sad following the wise man’s advice to sell everything and give the money to the poor. The rich man refused to part with his many possessions.
In the two stories above, we have a common message – the more material comfort one has, the less-likely one will be generous. I’m not sure the issue is frugality or careful stewardship. I suspect what holds us back from giving is a lack of gratitude. There is some unspoken change in our perspective when we get too comfortable. It is as if the more we attain, the more we “need”, the more we feel entitled to have what we want.
On the other hand, giving has an opposite effect. The more we give out of sacrifice, the more we want to continue to do so. It’s great to donate and support causes. If we want the greater blessing and change of heart, it is through giving away our excess, and allowing our comfort to come from within. Then we will be full of thanks for the joy that far surpasses that of owning things.
That’s the weirdest secret to gratitude.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.
*Accounts of the poor woman and rich young man are from the Bible at Luke 21:1-4 and Mark 10:17-23 respectively.
(You might be asking if I am just yapping or giving away my excess? Yes, I have purged my home and gratitude flows.)