Living in the Meantime
“Mr. Jones had tried for years to stop drinking. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Jones credits therapy at Centerstone [mental health agency] with changing his life.” – The Tennessean, 2011
“Mr. Jones just moved to this apartment, after a period of homelessness.” -- application for food delivery, 2010
Folks we visit rarely end up in the news. Mr. Jones moved into a Madison apartment, marking a great improvement in life, but move-in deposits had depleted his funds. The food bank was just over a mile away – not an impossible distance, but a tough round trip for a 60-year old man.
Volunteers delivered groceries to Mr. Jones, listening as he told about missionary parents raising him in Indonesia, and his culture shock upon returning to the States for college; he shared souvenirs of his earlier life.
Did Mr. Jones credit Charis with “changing his life?” No. After our visit, he entered an extended period of self-examination, counseling and therapy to live more successfully. And in the meantime? Charis didn’t change his life – but we helped. Not like a savior; like a friend.
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A host of problems face the people of our country, we're reminded daily. Solving any one of them will require billions of dollars, years of study and planning.
Here’s hoping for success. However, an exclusive focus on making foundational changes, on getting to root causes and “the big picture” can have two effects. First, it neutralizes us as individuals. That is, it erodes our belief that personal effort has any meaningful effect. We're trained to become spectators of people of influence – government leaders and others who wield the Power to Cause Meaningful Change. And in nullifying our belief, it saps our energy and willingness to try.
Second, it ignores the reality of time and the significance of individuals. Proposals are always presented as investments: pay now for results later, years in the future. Activity that is exclusively future-oriented can feel good, but in the meantime – what about people who are hurting right now?
In the meantime – that’s where we really live, isn’t it: the meantime, the present moment. And that's where we find both need and opportunity.
In the meantime – Charis is committed to helping. Along with you.