Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fuel Efficient Charity

Ever heard the phrase "Charity starts at home?" I generally take that saying to mean that whatever one is willing to do for others, they should be able to apply the same generosity to their family.

If I give money to charity, shouldn't I be able to spare some change for loved ones? If I mentor youth, shouldn't I spend time with the children closest to me?

The simple idea of having charity at home has dogged me for years. Which is weird because charity should not be a stressful, guilt-ridden, resentful task. Granted some aspects of charity are easy for me, but others not so much. Other times I have felt forced to make up for the shortfalls of others around me.

But lately, my brain seems much more vocal than my bleeding heart. Or perhaps it is my boys, maybe they are just more pertinent to me than extended family. And I'm okay with that.
I've found myself re-imaging what charity means to me.
Charity means I give to organizations that help women overcome their circumstances. Charity means I tutor children who haven't been given enough exposure to written words. Charity means I join in the responsibility of my Gran's welfare.

I also realize that charity means taking at least a day off per week to give my youngest son the extra hugs/direction/tutoring/discipline he needs.

Charity is not guilt. It is not saving the world. It is not playing fairy godmother to every child I see with a need.

Charity starts at home, goes to work, and leaves me with enough social and emotional resources to return home again.
That's the type of charity I can live. The type that does not leave me with an empty tank.