charity

From an email I sent to my family:

1 John 4: 20-21
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God,whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

The modern concept of love involves flowers, hearts and warm fuzzy feelings. Charity is a better word. Charity is a decision. It has less to do with emotion and more to do with behavior. We can not control other people’s behavior. We can not control other people’s emotions…and we can barely control our own emotions. But we can control our behavior. Charity demands that we make excuses for those who have hurt us (perhaps I said something unkind without meaning to…perhaps someone is just having a really bad day/week/life). Charity demands that we put a check on how we FEEL and refuse to be drawn in to an unpleasant and unkind discussion. Charity demands that we accept others entirely, even if we don’t like some things about them. Charity demands that we ignore or minimize their failings and focus on their good points.

I am the first to admit that I have failed to be perfectly charitable to everyone all the time. And no matter how much you know about how poorly I may have treated you personally, I am aware of how poorly I have treated all of you throughout my life. And I am truly sorry for any and all offenses (known and unknown), and apologize to you all for any resentment you may hold in your hearts toward me…especially, I apologize to Elisabeth for years of ill will and petty behavior.

But my failure to meet the standard of perfect charity in no ways makes illegitimate this standard.

I prefer to SOMETIMES meet a LOFTY goal, than to ALWAYS meet an INFERIOR one.

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I had to post this here to give myself the required frequent reminder of how I want to behave.

It is so very hard to love and forgive when the love and forgiveness are not reciprocated.

I just found out (second-hand) that a woman I know feels that I blew her off for two years. I am completely flabbergasted by that one. I can not think of a single person I have blown off in the last 8 years (and I did not know this woman prior to that). I can think of times that I forced myself to email or call someone (not this particular person) simply because it was polite to return a phone call. This woman is not local. It’s not as though I told her I was busy and then she caught me at a local bar.

Possible scenarios:
1) she kept emailing a defunct account?
2) she got my number wrong and kept leaving messages on a stranger’s machine, thinking that I was getting them?
3) she got my number right, but Bill didn’t tell me she called OR
4) she left a message, and I heard it, but got busy and forgot to call her OR
5) she left a message and we had a power failure and we lost all messages.

Scenarios 3-5 suggest a one-time occurance…she called once and waited for 2 years for me to call back? I’ve no idea what to do to reconcile this. Since the news came second-hand, I can’t come clean with this info. We’ve been in communication as far as I know since the beginning of our relationship…the way that people who live hundreds of miles away from each other are (birthday and Christmas cards).

But my point about charity: I must assume that scenario 1 or 2 is correct. I need to reign in my own hurt feelings that she would assume I was blowing her off. I have to try to not be hurt that she wouldn’t ask me what was wrong.

I’m getting really tired of other people judging me by only looking at the bad things I’ve done. And, of course, charity demands that I keep my mouth shut and take responsibility and make amends for those things, even though I want to say “what about the time you did xyz to me?” or “cut me some slack I was going through a terrible period at work” or even “yes, I did that…but I also did this and this and this…don’t these nice things out-weigh the bad?”

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