We see so much need in our own backyards and in the world around us that it can easily become overwhelming and dispiriting. The ongoing awareness of the pain and the demand can raise feelings of guilt at not doing enough or shame at not being enough.
We all know this. Most of us have been there.
The 3 lies we listen to
But if we feel like this then there are a few lies we have come to tolerate or at least entertain unchallenged.
Lie 1: I have to be the primary agent of change.
Lie 2: My giving cannot possibly make a difference.
Lie 3: If I engage in this need then it will take over my life (I have heard this from some very concerned friends).
So how can we respond differently and see the needs as an opportunity and not a burden?
Join with others
First of all, your response does not need to be setting up a charity, becoming a social activist or taking on the sole responsibility for an obvious need. It is best to join with others. Many people have already taken up roles starting and leading organisations as their life ‘call’. You can contribute by looking for the ‘right’ partner charities or organisations: those responsible with funds, dedicated to best practices in addressing poverty or need, and share your values and priorities. Then see how you can contribute to what they do. It may be as simple as sharing blogs and Facebook posts with friends, running an annual fundraising event, volunteering locally or overseas, or giving an annual donation.
Think about the impact of your giving
If you think your giving is too small, stop and think again. Little amounts given by a lot of people can make an enormous difference. I often think like this about the women’s self-help programs which work out to $30 per woman as a one off giving. If 1000 women give $30, it is $30,000 and 1000 women into a self-help group for life. Now that is amazing! We cannot take responsibility for changing the world as an individual (too hard, too lonely for me). But we can engage and say ‘yes’ to doing our small part and join a much wider movement that acts as a social tsunami against all kinds of poverty.
Allow your heart to expand
We might worry about the time and effort it may take from the other priorities in our life. For most of us, it won’t take over our lives. But it just might take over a part of your heart. And this is a good thing! It reminds us to look outward. Enjoy a big world filled with people and courage and generosity. I remember my husband’s fear at having a second child. He was worried that he could never love a second son as much as the first. Until he arrived. And he realised that with a new baby his heart expanded. It got bigger. Yours can too. It has no limits so dive in, give and find that your heart will also grow.
See the people not the poverty
The Foxglove Project does not use images of pity or stories of hopelessness to stir people to become involved. For the most part I resist such approaches because they cause as much suffering as engagement. But this does not mean that I don’t want to look honestly at the disparity of need and the seeming evil that is often at work in the world about us. This is not right. This needs courage to address. But I am just as interested in reminding us all to engage. To connect with our world. The whole world. To see the opportunity rather than the burden. To see the people rather than the poverty. And then say to ourselves, ‘I want to help. I want to care. I want to engage.’ That is enough. That’s our call.