Note: I wrote the first half of this several months ago and saved it back because I didn’t feel it was complete. I could expound on this even more, but something in me just wanted to leave it the way it was. It’s just a thought I had one day that came back to me again recently.
As an apartment manager who sees people’s credit scores on a daily basis, it seems like I’m always using this to assess people, to lay bare their strengths and weaknesses as if payments and monetary assessment is the best way of seeing them for what they truly are. There are those that have rough credit history that aren’t bad, fickle, irresponsible, undependable types. I’ve taken chances on people who have had amazing rental and job history but no credit history to speak of. They continued to pay their rent perfectly on time and I continue to stand by them and do everything I can to keep them as residents.
Maybe they were married to that type of person. Maybe they just had a rough go of it for a while with their health, their vehicle or their life. Regardless… not all these people are bad, and not all people that pass my credit checks with flying colors are infallible. I deny people on a weekly basis that I want to give a second chance to. I approve people on a weekly basis that my gut tells me are going to not only trash their apartment, but also skip out on their lease.
Single mothers are my Achilles heel. I always want to feel bad for them because my mother was at one time in the same boat. I remember one day, after I got off the bus from school, I came into her bedroom and sat down next to her on her bed. Her face was red and swollen from crying all day. She had been in bed for days. Depressed. Downtrodden. I had heard her on the phone earlier that morning talking to someone. She said she only had $10 to her name. As a 10 year old I was afraid and I didn’t realize the weight of my care, the burden of my existence. I put my hand on her shoulder, “Mama, are we gonna die?” I asked her. This of course made her cry all the more. She grabbed me and pulled me under the covers with her. She looked at me as if I were absurd and comforted me with words I knew she didn’t believe, “Oh, we’ll be fine. Of course we won’t die.” Every time a single mother comes in desperately seeking a new refuge for her and her children, my brain has to keep my heart from wandering back to that afternoon with my mother.This is my half vulcan half betazoid struggle.
As all of this swirls around in my brain it makes me think What if? What if we are all building a line of credit with God? What if every scrap of goodness or badness added to or took away from our line of credit with him? Based on what I have, though I am still considered young, would I have enough credit to buy anything he has in store for me?Let me clarify one thing about my beliefs: I do not, in any way, believe that the only reward for goodness is getting to go to heaven. I don’t want to go to heaven, I just don’t want to die. If you think about it, that is the underlying fear for the entire human race: Nonexistence. Nor do I believe anyone will be burned forever in some imaginary lake of fire that some sadistic God keeps stoking 24-7 in an attempt to scare us into obedience to Him. I’m sorry, but an imperfect human being is not capable of this level of sadism, how could a perfect one be? I DO very much believe in a creator that made us. Apparently, I just give Him a lot more credit than most.
Someone asked me recently, when I was taking a chance on someone with a recent behavioral pattern that had been undependable and shaky, whether or not this person really deserved what I was doing for them. Did they deserve the kindness, the effort, the risk I was taking on them? In that moment, the very audacity of that question gave me pause to reflect on its arrogance. I have asked this sort of thing so many times to myself and others in the past. Does this person DESERVE the kindness that is being given to them? If they squander it, will it have all been for nothing? Will it have been a waste of time on the giver’s end?
I didn’t help this person because they have always been a good person. Quite the contrary, more often than not, this person has treated me coldly when I have reached out for their affection or friendship. This person has made bad decisions that have hurt me and my family repeatedly. So why would I yet again help a person who has the potential to disappoint and fail us all? I have asked myself this question not only regarding this person, but as regards many people I have tried to help in the past. The only answer I can come up with is that I didn’t help them because they deserved it, I helped them because it was within my power to do so and because it made me happy to be of that much use in the pursuit of someone else’s happiness and well being. Helping people without expecting payment or good karma or being protected from any sort of badness that might befall me because of my good deed is the only way I want to help people.
I loathe the thought of being the kind of “tit for tat” person that would only help someone else if they owed me something in return or if they got something tangible out of it. That cowardly spirit of interaction with others is based solely on fear and selfishness and I don’t want to be any part of it. I would rather have my heart broken and my kindness mistaken for weakness a thousand times, than be the sort of person who closes off to the possibility of doing anything that does not directly benefit them in some way. If I think about myself being that cold and uncaring, it literally makes me shudder. This is what humanity is, we are not simply moist robots. We have the capacity to be so much more. So what on earth are we so afraid of?
Now, if I, a fallible, imperfect human being, am capable of this, then surely a perfect, all-knowing, all encompassing creator is capable of so much more. If we aren’t simply looking for where we stand to benefit by obeying Him and instead look at our lives, our relationships with our Creator and with our peers, as something MORE than a way to gain something for ourselves, only then can we be free of the slavery to the notion that all actions MUST have an equal reaction or that all good deeds must be rewarded by an equal payment. The satisfaction of being useful should be enough. Being needed IS being loved. I can’t state it more plainly than that. So obviously, doing things for others is a way of fulfilling their needs and thus gaining love. They don’t have to verbalize that love, it is implied by offsetting their need. Seeing someone else breathe easier knowing that they won’t have to continue to deal with a certain hardship should be enough for us, shouldn’t it?
Everything I am saying finds its origins in the pages of the Bible, so obviously none of what I am saying is new or in any way original. Sometimes we are so bombarded with thinking and actions that are opposite of the absolute perfect truths the Bible lays down, that we need a refresher course. I’m not trying to beat anyone over the head with this, it is only in an effort to keep you from making the same mistakes over and over again and questioning why you feel so empty. It is a simple fact: there is more happiness in giving than in receiving. The spirit of the world is teaching us the opposite of this and it is making us empty and unsatisfied to the point that we need to be doped up in order for us not to strongly consider ending our lives out of despair.
To be a whole person that doesn’t live in constant fear and sadness, in emptiness, you must find a way to love and be loved. That means letting yourself give and opening yourself up to others without expecting anything in return, without expecting perfectly equal compensation. Better yet, it means expecting no compensation at all.
Just a thought.