Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Keeping It on the DL

I love attention. I love being recognized for things I do well. It's possibly why I like to act; being on stage is exhilarating and rewarding. Because of this, I find it nearly impossible to keep my mouth shut when I do something good.

I want to shout it from the rooftops! I want to have someone pat me on the back! I want to be told I did a good job! "Oh, Rachel! What a compassionate person you are! Mother Theresa has nothing on you!"

Yes, well. Not how I'm supposed to do it.

I used to get my hair done at a salon downtown. I've since stopped going because it's crummy to find parking. Plus I've found stylists closer to home that are just as good and considerably cheaper.

But that's neither here nor there.

What I liked about going downtown was that there were always a few homeless people along my walking route. Not that I like that there are homeless people. I mean—um—hmph. I mean that there was always someone to whom I could show a kindness. Every time I went downtown, I'd buy someone lunch. There are some sandwich and pizza shops right off the Circle, so I'd ask them if I could get them lunch. If I could, I'd stay with them for a little while and chat. If I was in a hurry, I'd ask them what I could pray for. It felt good.

But what felt better: I didn't tell anyone. I didn't even tell my husband. He'd ask what a charge on my credit card was, and I'd say, "I can't tell you." He knew that probably meant my bleeding heart had done something charitable, but he also knew I didn't want to talk about it.

Why all the secrecy?

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:1-4)

The only reason I share it now is because the cat was out of the bag a few years ago. We went to a marriage conference downtown with some friends of ours, and on our lunch break, I stopped to buy someone lunch. Our friends wondered where I'd disappeared to, so my husband told them what I was doing (he'd apparently figured it out). So people knew. I also use it as a suggestion when people tell me they don't want to give homeless people money or whatever. Then when they find a reason to protest that suggestion, I say, "Well, I've done it, and there's no reason for you to feel that way."

So that's the one thing that's gotten out. I've tried very hard to keep anything else under wraps. That way, God gets the glory, not me. It becomes, "Thank you, God!" not "Thank you, Rachel!"  My job here is to point people to God, not use God to point people to me. God has given me the gift of compassion; I'm supposed to use it. But that doesn't mean I have to tell people I'm using it. I want it to be between God and the person I'm helping.

But it's so hard. I have to constantly say to myself, "The glory is for God! The glory is for God! My reward later will be so much better than someone telling me 'Good job!' now!" It's seriously the only thing that keeps me from running my big mouth.

What say you? Or do you say anything at all?

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