Backroads

Charity: Feeling jaded on charity

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So my tale begins with a foolish mistake: joining a Facebook group. It was devoted to people helping people and, really, where can one go wrong there? People state what they need, people state what they have to offer, etc.

And lately I've been observing the group not in the spirit of charity but with the anticipation of watching a garbage fire. 

For example: One woman begged for baby stuff, and I'm trying to get rid of baby stuff as my baby departs that stage. She was unable to pick it up, and driving to her city was mostly out of the question for me. But she was staying in a motel temporarily being used for the homeless and said she had just had a baby... I never did get down to her city because not only is it really hard for me but stuff didn't seem right. Her profile showed no baby or pregnancy pictures, which could easily just be a privacy preference. But when others suggested she look into WIC she said she " didn't have children". A few weeks later, she said she needed a whole array of baby stuff because she was now pregnant. Another person came right out and said she was simply gathering baby stuff to sell online. (Which I have no issue with in and of itself, but why would you lie about your motherhood status?)

In another example, a woman actually near me needed help with food: demanding all sorts of stuff I deem fancy and unnecessary (no one is "desperate" for ice cream, soda, cookies, etc.) I live in a fairly cook-from-scratch home, so stuff like frozen pizzas and such is foreign to me.

Then, another part of me thinks, who I am to judge what people are able to serve the families? 

And then it gets worse: I see people who need EVERYTHING. Obviously, something happened to them and I can even pat myself on the back for giving some stuff to a guy who was apparently getting housing after being homeless for years. 

The thing is, instead of thinking "how can I help these people?" I find myself thinking awful thoughts about how they are greedy, liars, or can't get their lives together.

I've decided to leave the group, but how can back into a better state of charity?

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Reading your post, I tend to want to commiserate rather than offer actual solution alternatives. So I'm of no help.

I have never seen such an attitude of entitlement as I see today. A year or so ago, my wife fixed a wonderful Indian dinner and, for various reasons, ended up with a lot left over. She advertised on a FB group that this was available for any who wanted it. Someone responded almost immediately, and my wife gave her the address. She told my wife that she didn't have a car, so couldn't pick it up, So my wife worked out a time FOR US TO DRIVE DOWN TO HER HOUSE AND DELIVER HER OUR FOOD WE WERE GIVING AWAY.

But wait. It gets better. So at the appointed hour, I (duly authorized by my wife) drive on down to the apartment housing where they live. The instructions on how to get to their apartment are absolutely horrible. I'm walking around this apartment complex, and no one is coming out to meet me or anything. I literally can't find the apartment (because, as it turns out, the instructions were completely wrong, as if given by a lost child), and after ten or fifteen minutes (!!) of looking, I have decided that I've had it, I'm going home. Just then, a car drives up (let me repeat: A CAR DRIVES UP) and parks. Out gets a very young woman and her boyfriend. They see me and ask me if I have the Indian food. They then show me to their apartment (because they can't be bothered to, you know, take the food from me) and instruct me to put it on the table. No thanks, no gratitude, no "tell your wife how much we love it". Nothing.

I was a people person until I met some people.

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1 hour ago, Vort said:

She told my wife that she didn't have a car

I have never seen so many people lacking access to cars before joining such a group as mine.

Now, a majority seemed to live in a certain metropolitan area, so I guess I can get a car not being necessary--but also assumed substituted by another means of transportation. 

So either I am unaware of lifestyles severely limited by transportation, or people just don't want to drive to meet me.

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If you have a homeless shelter or a place that prepares meals for the homeless, perhaps helping out there (within safety of course) could help restore a love of charity.

If you have a food bank which offers food, volunteering or helping out there could also help with charity.

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I try to give to strangers sparingly. I have limited service ability (particularly fiscally) so when I choose to aid someone, I pick people I know or an organization I trust.

Making a community based on charity or consecration is a good idea... but it is a bad idea if anyone is allowed in. it is going to make up people who are either givers or takers. There is little reciprocity from the takers . The only time it works is when the community is selective and there is a common understanding and expectation of responsibility.

Edited by Fether

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I've been a ward finance clerk for three bishops now.   I've seen endless blessings flow through the fast offerings program.  There are handfuls of stories where a bishop has acted as broker, someone wanted to donate a car, bishop knows someone who needs a car, stuff like that.   It is great to watch the blessings of service reach both sides of the equasion.

I also have a small handful of experiences where, oh, let's say, people have struggled with behaviors and attitudes that have prevented them from experiencing the full load of blessings.  Or perhaps they're upset at a perceived lack of earned blessings.  Sometimes they get ticked off because the bishop and ward doesn't jump to do them the service they feel they deserve.

I've seen one example of fraudulent abuse of fast offerings, by a family of professional bilkers who are experts in appearing poor and needy and desperate.  The bishop found them out, and let them know that while the invitation to partake in the church's spiritual blessings was still open to them, they would no longer be able to avail themselves of the temporal ones.  

@Backroads, don't give up on humanity, just because you've found a place where scammers congregate.  The scriptures seem pretty firm on things, talking about how if you judge the beggar and use that judgment to not help, then you are sinning.  Just keep in mind on what helps people, and what doesn't.  Letting scammers scam, isn't charity and doesn't help.  We're supposed to be more than harmless as doves, we're also supposed to be wise as serpents. And serpents don't buy sob stories from grifters who are lying to get gain.  

If there's ever any doubt, you can offer to take someone to church, and talk to them about our fast offerings program, and what they need to do to get help from the bishop.  And should they disappear right in front of your eyes and move on to more lucrative pastures, try to genuinely love them enough to be sad for their choice.

 

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12 hours ago, Backroads said:

I've decided to leave the group, but how can back into a better state of charity?

I'd focus first on: "what is charity?"  It is the pure love of Christ. 

It's not giving stuff away, it's not working for free, it's not feeding the hungry, it's not being part of a Facebook group, etc.  (Though charity can indeed motivate each of those actions).  It is first and foremost that feeling of God-like love.

People and situations are diverse.  Yes, there are times that giving of temporal goods in an act of love.  And there's also times where it is NOT a loving act.  Even God Himself can (and frequently does) answer prayers for temporal or other things with a "no".  And as part of our learning discernment is learning to likewise say "no" when it's the right thing to do.  And there are MANY times where "no" is the right answer and giving someone something they ask for is actually hurtful to them.  MANY times.  

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So, this may be terribly condescending on my end, but . . .

There is a staggering number of people out there whose brains just don’t work right.

It may be due to chemical addiction, or trauma in the early phases of childhood development, or bad culture, or bad genetics, or a bunch of other things.  But this is just how their brains (don’t) function, and they go through life from one train wreck to the next because certain things just don’t “click”; and the ability of therapeutic/chemical/surgical interventions to correct those kinds of cognitive errors is limited.

I was at a seminar a couple years ago that made this point in a much more delicate way, with something called The Brain Architecture Game.  At the time I was defending indigent parents whose children were in DCFS custody, and my takeaway (which maybe wasn’t what its creators intended) was:  your ability to fix these people is somewhat limited; so don’t knock yourself out trying.  If you can show kindness, and find a meaningful way to help the next generation be a little less dysfunctional than the last one, you’re doing the Lord’s work.

There’s more wisdom in the saying that “the poor you have with you always” than most of us are willing to admit.  

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I can't help but think how much we (I) abuse the Charity of God, when I hear stories like this.

I can totally empathize with the frustration, lack of willingness to do what is necessary for oneself, lack of gratitude etc etc.  But then my thoughts turn on me... how often I have been ungrateful? How often have I reached out to the Lord for help and aid when I still haven't done the work?  How often do I find my self returning to my sins after he helped me get out.

I have nothing to offer to 'fix' the problem other then the acknowledging that in more ways then I like, I am acting much the same, just in a different area of life.

 

Edited by estradling75

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10 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

At the time I was defending indigent parents whose children were in DCFS custody, and my takeaway (which maybe wasn’t what its creators intended) was:  your ability to fix these people is somewhat limited; so don’t knock yourself out trying.  If you can show kindness, and find a meaningful way to help the next generation be a little less dysfunctional than the last one, you’re doing the Lord’s work.

I can relate.   My wife and I both come from upbringings that had no small amount of toxic dysfunction in it.  Between our two families, we've got stuff like suicide, PTSD, drug abuse ending lives early, child neglect, a convicted felon, and multigenerational child abuse.  We both bear scars, and there are broken parts of us both that simply won't be fixed during our mortal probation.  I came up with the name "Broken Cycle Ranch" for our home, and both of us have bent over backwards to ensure that our kids aren't touched by the nonsense that touched us.  I think we're doing ok - a few months ago my teenager accused us of abuse because we turned off her internet until she did her homework.  🤣

Yes indeed, when I hear stories about the "lost and the least" of us, it's pretty easy to think "there but for the grace of God go I".  Charity without judgment is easier for me than the next person over.

(And now y'all know why my username is a hard won title.)

Edited by NeuroTypical

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2 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

I can relate.   My wife and I both come from upbringings that had no small amount of toxic dysfunction in it.  Between our two families, we've got stuff like suicide, PTSD, drug abuse ending lives early, child neglect, a convicted felon, and multigenerational child abuse.

I can relate as well. This is very common amongst almost all families, both in the church and out. We should not make judgments about other people thinking that their life is perfect, when in reality they may have gone, or are actively going, though the exact same trials. This is a problem plaguing our ward at the moment...too much comparison, supposition, and speculation taking place. It is causing folks to resent their neighbors, seek for riches, forget how blessed they really are, and how they need to be more willing to serve others.

That being said, I will not bend over backwards for someone who isn't willing to do a little bending for themselves, and I have no problem letting someone fall on their face...so they can learn to pick themselves back up.

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On 2/15/2021 at 10:10 AM, Backroads said:

So my tale begins with a foolish mistake: joining a Facebook group. It was devoted to people helping people and, really, where can one go wrong there? People state what they need, people state what they have to offer, etc.

And lately I've been observing the group not in the spirit of charity but with the anticipation of watching a garbage fire. 

For example: One woman begged for baby stuff, and I'm trying to get rid of baby stuff as my baby departs that stage. She was unable to pick it up, and driving to her city was mostly out of the question for me. But she was staying in a motel temporarily being used for the homeless and said she had just had a baby... I never did get down to her city because not only is it really hard for me but stuff didn't seem right. Her profile showed no baby or pregnancy pictures, which could easily just be a privacy preference. But when others suggested she look into WIC she said she " didn't have children". A few weeks later, she said she needed a whole array of baby stuff because she was now pregnant. Another person came right out and said she was simply gathering baby stuff to sell online. (Which I have no issue with in and of itself, but why would you lie about your motherhood status?)

In another example, a woman actually near me needed help with food: demanding all sorts of stuff I deem fancy and unnecessary (no one is "desperate" for ice cream, soda, cookies, etc.) I live in a fairly cook-from-scratch home, so stuff like frozen pizzas and such is foreign to me.

Then, another part of me thinks, who I am to judge what people are able to serve the families? 

And then it gets worse: I see people who need EVERYTHING. Obviously, something happened to them and I can even pat myself on the back for giving some stuff to a guy who was apparently getting housing after being homeless for years. 

The thing is, instead of thinking "how can I help these people?" I find myself thinking awful thoughts about how they are greedy, liars, or can't get their lives together.

I've decided to leave the group, but how can back into a better state of charity?

It may surprise some people to know this, but ai went through a phase where I behaved like this.  It was a selfish phase.  I could have gone out of my way (bend a bit like @scottyg was saying).  But my mentality was:The more I can get others to do for me the easier it is for me.  

It had nothing to do with what was right or what was more practical or any spirit of cooperation or personal responsibility.  It was wholely about what I could get out of it for as little effort on my part as possible.

Pretty selfish, right?  Yup.  I was.

I got out of that phase because enough people around me told me that this behavior was unacceptable.  And enough people refused to help me to the point that I realized I was on my own.

So I did things because no one else would do it for me.  I'd read enough stories of people picking themselves up by their bootstraps and succeeding.

If it hadn't been for both sides of that equation, I don't think I would have gotten out of that mindset.   Why would I?  What would have been my motivation.  If I could get by without doing anything I would have.

It was only after I got out of that phase that I truly began to understand that "vision" (think "Paper Dream") that I'd had for so long.  And more importantly how I was to achieve it.

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On 2/15/2021 at 7:24 PM, Vort said:

They then show me to their apartment (because they can't be bothered to, you know, take the food from me) and instruct me to put it on the table. No thanks, no gratitude, no "tell your wife how much we love it". Nothing.

You could have said in a loud and sarcastic voice: "Oh, that's quite all right! No trouble at all! Pray don't mention it! If there's ever anything else I can do for you..." and kept on in this tone until they finally said "thank you".

Unfortunately these things never occur to me until after the event. I usually just fume in silence, and then rant about it later to wife/family/friends etc. 

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15 hours ago, Vort said:

This comment was intended to be snarky fun, but it sounds like an insult instead, so I'm deleting it.

Hmmm...I really want to know what the comment was now! 😁

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6 hours ago, Jamie123 said:

You could have said in a loud and sarcastic voice: "Oh, that's quite all right! No trouble at all! Pray don't mention it! If there's ever anything else I can do for you..." and kept on in this tone until they finally said "thank you".

Unfortunately these things never occur to me until after the event. I usually just fume in silence, and then rant about it later to wife/family/friends etc. 

I myself am a little too good at the silent fume.

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6 hours ago, Jamie123 said:

Hmmm...I really want to know what the comment was now! 😁

Not nearly as interesting as you are hoping. Just a lame attempt at an even lamer joke. @NeuroTypical mentioned how he had really earned his username, and I thought I was being funny by saying that that was true for his previous username (LoudmouthMormon), too. But somehow, it didn't look nearly as funny when spelled out as it had sounded in my head. My intent was that he had had to work hard to earn the title of LoudmouthMormon—har de har har!—but it looked like I was just calling him a loudmouth. So I manfully tucked tail and courageously deleted my post.

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On 2/17/2021 at 4:50 PM, Vort said:

Not nearly as interesting as you are hoping. Just a lame attempt at an even lamer joke. @NeuroTypical mentioned how he had really earned his username, and I thought I was being funny by saying that that was true for his previous username (LoudmouthMormon), too. But somehow, it didn't look nearly as funny when spelled out as it had sounded in my head. My intent was that he had had to work hard to earn the title of LoudmouthMormon—har de har har!—but it looked like I was just calling him a loudmouth. So I manfully tucked tail and courageously deleted my post.

Haha - THANKS :) I remember Loudmouth Mormon - I probably did know at one time that NeuroTypical was the same person, but I had long forgotten - I am so used to seeing him as NeuroTypical.

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On 2/17/2021 at 9:50 AM, Vort said:

My intent was that he had had to work hard to earn the title of LoudmouthMormon—har de har har!

I didn't have to work that hard.  :dude:

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On 2/16/2021 at 1:52 PM, estradling75 said:

I can't help but think how much we (I) abuse the Charity of God, when I hear stories like this.

I remember many years ago reading a book by Phillip Yancey about the subject of Grace. There was a chapter about "the abuse of grace" where he talks about a man on death row who gave the following rationale: he really wanted to kill himself, but as a Catholic he thought that all suicides went to hell. So instead he murdered someone else in order to be executed. That way he would get what he wanted, and would still have time enough to repent before he died, and thus go to heaven. I don't know how God would sort this out, but from our perspective it would be more of a punishment not to execute him

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On 2/15/2021 at 11:10 AM, Backroads said:

So my tale begins with a foolish mistake: joining a Facebook group. It was devoted to people helping people and, really, where can one go wrong there? People state what they need, people state what they have to offer, etc.

And lately I've been observing the group not in the spirit of charity but with the anticipation of watching a garbage fire. 

For example: One woman begged for baby stuff, and I'm trying to get rid of baby stuff as my baby departs that stage. She was unable to pick it up, and driving to her city was mostly out of the question for me. But she was staying in a motel temporarily being used for the homeless and said she had just had a baby... I never did get down to her city because not only is it really hard for me but stuff didn't seem right. Her profile showed no baby or pregnancy pictures, which could easily just be a privacy preference. But when others suggested she look into WIC she said she " didn't have children". A few weeks later, she said she needed a whole array of baby stuff because she was now pregnant. Another person came right out and said she was simply gathering baby stuff to sell online. (Which I have no issue with in and of itself, but why would you lie about your motherhood status?)

In another example, a woman actually near me needed help with food: demanding all sorts of stuff I deem fancy and unnecessary (no one is "desperate" for ice cream, soda, cookies, etc.) I live in a fairly cook-from-scratch home, so stuff like frozen pizzas and such is foreign to me.

Then, another part of me thinks, who I am to judge what people are able to serve the families? 

And then it gets worse: I see people who need EVERYTHING. Obviously, something happened to them and I can even pat myself on the back for giving some stuff to a guy who was apparently getting housing after being homeless for years. 

The thing is, instead of thinking "how can I help these people?" I find myself thinking awful thoughts about how they are greedy, liars, or can't get their lives together.

I've decided to leave the group, but how can back into a better state of charity?

This has been a struggle for me since I joined the Church.  I try to be at every service project and take my children so they can learn.  I understand I'm required to serve and try to be open and look for every opportunity.  I don't care if I'm the only one there and we talk with the boys about keeping it to ourselves because humble service isn't about the accolades.

It becomes more and more apparent that we are frequently serving the same few people who are either perfectly capable of serving themselves or continuously willfully refuse to improve their situation.  My heart is so hard towards a few of these people when their names come up every single week.  I still do the service, but it isn't with the right attitude.  I'm still cheerful and friendly, but inside I'm sour.  I'm really not sure how to improve this and I feel horrible for feeling this way.

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8 minutes ago, Grunt said:

This has been a struggle for me since I joined the Church.  I try to be at every service project and take my children so they can learn.  I understand I'm required to serve and try to be open and look for every opportunity.  I don't care if I'm the only one there and we talk with the boys about keeping it to ourselves because humble service isn't about the accolades.

It becomes more and more apparent that we are frequently serving the same few people who are either perfectly capable of serving themselves or continuously willfully refuse to improve their situation.  My heart is so hard towards a few of these people when their names come up every single week.  I still do the service, but it isn't with the right attitude.  I'm still cheerful and friendly, but inside I'm sour.  I'm really not sure how to improve this and I feel horrible for feeling this way.

I fall back to my old rule: “does me being here cleaning your house (or whatever) actually helping for you in the long term? “

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