During paramedic school, I went through a level of economic hardship I've never known till or since then. I was 830 miles from home, totally unprepared to live on my own, never learned how to balance a check book, manage a budget or pay anything larger than a car payment and my beeper bill (it was the 90s no cell phones yet). Now, trying to juggle tuition, books, rent, utilities, the truck payment, insurance etc… etc… I was overwhelmed. I had been evicted from several apartments, had checks bouncing all over the place, couldn’t pay a traffic summons, then got caught driving on a suspended license which, of course cost my employment too. My parents did not have the resources to pay my way and I squandered all nine of my years of high school partying instead of learning and perhaps qualifying for a scholarship.
During that period, overwhelmed, depressed and nearly beaten, I had, at the invitation of a loving partner, begun attending a United Methodist Church where I had been introduced to a peaceful man who helped me sort through many struggles. Pastor Morris taught me a valuable lesson regarding giving and receiving. With several years of volunteer fire and EMS service under my belt, I knew the joy of giving to those in need. I thought I was in touch with Christianity by being associated with volunteerism and thus giving.
|Greenville Memorial Hosp., Greenville, S.C.|
Pastor was a wise man with a kind soul. I had grown up in the Catholic Church and wasn't used to Christian education emitting from a man in blue jeans and a button-down shirt. His message was also contrary to the grain of my upbringing too. He wanted to talk to me about “receiving” when my entire life I had always associated Christianity with “giving.”
Back to Pastor Morris in the hospital cafeteria; he saw that I was enormously conflicted with being too proud to accept people's charity and too poor to deny it. He explained to me that often, before becoming big givers of anything in this world, we must first learn, understand and appreciate what it is to be a big receiver first.
I got to see firsthand that during a time of need, my brothers kept me. We are our brother's keeper.