Sunday, May 2, 2010

Poverty, Charity

There was a time not long ago that because of a couple of months of bills that I had thought were paid but were not, and the immediate loss of half of the family's income, I had to make use of the Bishop's Storehouse in order to feed my daughter and my pregnant self. It was humiliating. When I filled out the sheet, I put the bare minimum I needed to get by, with help from the little food storage I had left. My bishop added more to the sheet before he signed it and gave it back to me.

Getting the food was an experience I don't ever care to repeat. I went into what looked very much like a grocery store, checked in at the desk, and filled my cart with the amount I needed, my Scandinavian skin burning the entire time. The workers there were gentle with me. I think they must have seen how uncomfortable I was.

I packed the hamburger, sausage, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, flour, cheese, apples, bananas and oranges into the trunk of my car. I still remember every item. I felt an odd, pointed mix of shame and gratitude. When you get food from the storehouse, they offer to let you work there to pay it back, as much as it can be paid back. I knew that my work there would have to be done in the far future because, as a newly single working mother, barely out of the first trimester and still suffering from constant "morning" sickness, I had as many balls in the air as I could juggle. Rather more, actually, but I didn't want to look too closely at that for fear I'd drop the ones I had.

I stretched the two weeks of food out with some small purchases ($10 or $15/week!) of my own to last a month. By then, I received some unforeseen help, and gotten my feet under me again. Things were tight, but they were not imminent-starvation tight.

As I said, I hope to never have to do that again, to never have to be at a point where I have to worry about how to feed my children.

However, I now have a great deal more compassion for people on the street than I once did. It doesn't seem to matter to me any more whether they spend the money I give them on booze or on food. What matters is that I give. And when I don't have money to give them, I can at least look them in the eyes and smile. I can always give them respect. Even if they squandered their means foolishly, I can still empathize with where they are now. I only wish I could help them all.

Perhaps this is the beginning of charity. I don't think we can know God until we understand charity. Perhaps I was wrong. Maybe my experience, however difficult at the time, was more humbling than humiliating.
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
Moroni 7:47-48


  1. Moroni 7:47-48 was a very good choice it is one of my favorites :)

    Ideally you shouldn’t have felt anything but thankful that it was available, because situations like yours, is exactly why it is there.

    This morning in my scripture study I was pondering these verses
    Alma 1: 30 And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.
    31 And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church.

    I honestly believe this type of compassion is the key to the success of the members, and the church, in the future. possibly it was their care for others that brought them the peace they needed in the midst of persecutions see verse 28.

    Since your trial resulted in greater empathy for others, I’d say it was a great success ;) wouldn’t you?
    Take care my friend.

  2. So sorry you were in a position to need the storehouse. It is comforting to know that through fast offerings I can help others in this way, but still allow them some dignity through the relative anonymity of the process.

    After having used it myself I agree that as bad as it is to be in that desperate circumstance, I hope every member has the opportunity to learn from using the welfare resources of the church. For instance - my husband who never had to worry about where his food came from before asked a question the day I picked up our first storehouse food order: "So how much did it cost?" He was clueless and obviously there was a communication breakdown between the bishop, my husband, and myself.

    That same day while unloading my storehouse order a member of the ward walked up my driveway and casually asked, "Where do you shop?" When I said, "The storehouse" we both blushed and she changed the subject.


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