Posted by on June 5, 2020

Open hearted giving

Human beings have a generosity that is unparalleled. We want to help everyone and fix everything. And we go into communities with our own agendas and we often don’t ask, “What do you think that you need?” “What are your dreams?” “What is working in your community already?” “What are you most proud of?” What is important to you?”

Lots of folks we encounter are so eager to help others. This kindheartedness is the hallmark of people who love us and love our work. People send us emails wanting to volunteer, wanting to share their gifts and talents, and even their money. They see a problem and they want to “fix” it and put all their gifts, talents and energy towards solving that problem. As well intentioned as this type of behavior is, it is often harmful. You see, we often don’t practice what one of my favorite theologians, Henri Nouwen, calls “downward humility.” We come into the helping relationship because we believe in the strength of our resources and we believe we have the power to “fix.” Honestly, most of us come from a “power over” mode – I “must” help. It is my “obligation” to help. Those “poor” people. Here is the thing, if you don’t enter into a reciprocal relationship with those that you want to “help,” then you are missing out on a key component of compassion which is to engage in an actual, real and transformational (for you) relationship with those you want to serve. During this time of social physical distancing, your help is needed, but please don’t forget the “downward mobility,” which is another way of saying ‘humility.’ Write a letter in your care packages, keep your heart open, connect with the common humanity of others. Rather than assuming you know what others need, ask them and partner with them.

Brene Brown this week posted this image on social media. and I was mildly depressed the rest of the day! LOL. I have lessons to learn in this area too. As we all do. We must open our hearts and give from a place of sharing power and not just our resources. And this from a chaplain I know: “And here is the lesson I have learned, just like love, just being in the presence of giving is more vital than being the giver or receiver.” ~ Hatt Kelly.

Iyabo Onipede
Compassion Cultivator
Compassionate Atlanta

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