I've been reading Follow Me to Freedom by Shane Claiborne and John M. Perkins, wrestling with my own callings and hangups. In the book, Perkins quotes Harold W. Reed's book, Dynamics of Leadership, "All great leaders have the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of the people in their time." This got me thinking about my motivations, the issues I try to resolve. I am always out to create community, or worried about my lack of it, and I've done a poor job. I think I've always felt lonely and can sense it in others, knowing we're all on the outside. It makes me put forth the extra effort, even when it isn't returned equally. Maybe that makes me pitiable, I don't know.
My second motivation has always been hunger. I'm the first to admit I've never been hungry. Probably closer to it than my parents will admit during the early years of my dad's career in ministry. Beyond that, never. Not once have I skipped a meal involuntarily, and I'm more guilty of overeating than I care to say. It's the guilt of the overfed goading me to feed others.
George and I restructured our budget last year to implement in January. Since moving here, our donations are zilch, our savings zero. Yet we have more income here and one key thing is cheaper: the house payment. Where are we spending the extra? Frivolous shopping and gas. I'll admit I buy more clothing than I need, considering I'm homebound and rarely out of sweats. I've curbed my spending by a monthly allotment of $50 in cash. Cash is key, I hope. Also in the budget is $150 for donations. Hold on, I'll explain.
Growing up, my family always tithed. Ten percent of our income went to the church, and because my dad was a minister, he gave even more. So I have tithed since babysitting money started rolling in. A few years ago, I read another book and realized I was giving money to a church to fund who knows what when I could be giving it directly to the people who need it to live. I rerouted half of my tithe to hunger relief, mostly using it to fund meals I cooked myself at a homeless teen shelter. When we moved to Kansas, for the first time I didn't have much of an income source. George and I pooled money, blending our accounts for the first time. It's been relatively painless, apart from my pride. So, yes, it's taken me more than a year to suggest that we make sizeable donations out of an account I rarely contribute to.
This month, the money is going to Kiva, but later I'm hoping to direct it toward hunger issues closer to home. If only I could find out what they are. By phone, no one is being very helpful. Quite possibly I am not asking the right questions. My leadership abilities have whittled away. I barely know what I want, outside of community, and the rest of my follow-through must have succumbed to the weather. At Christmastime, our food bank changed hands from oversight by the Methodist Church to the county-run organization, and it's been difficult to track down who exactly is now in charge.
Lately I've not been very honest about my goals to people who can hold me accountable. I plan to visit the new food bank on Monday and see whether they need help or money or both. I'd like to be a follower for a while. Historically, I'm a terrible follower. I lack the patience. But I'm telling George my intentions out loud today, so he will ask me what happened next Monday. You can ask me too.