The stories we tell ourselves about our own lives matter.
I was six years old when I first heard stories about the poor.
I remember learning that people who were poor needed something...
...material: food, clothing, shelter that they didn't have.
And I also was taught coupled with that, that it was my job,...
...this classroom full of five and six - year - old children; it was our job, apparently, to help.
This is what Jesus asked of us.
And then he said, "What you do for the least of these, you do it for me."
I was very eager to be useful in the world, I think we all have that feeling.
But I also learned very soon thereafter that Jesus also said and I'm paraphrasing,...
...the poor would always be with us.
I felt like I had been just given a homework assignment that I had to do,...
...and I was excited to do, but no matter what I would do, I would fail.
So I felt confused, a little bit frustrated and angry,...
...like maybe I'd misunderstood something here and I felt overwhelmed.
In the years following, the other stories I heard about the poor, growing up...
...were no more positive.
I heard about disease, I heard about war.
They always seemed to be kind of related.
I started to feel bad every time I heard about them.
I started to feel guilty for my own relative wealth,...
...because I wasn't doing more apparently, to make things better.
And I even felt a sense of shame because of that.
And so naturally, I started to distance myself.
I stopped listening to their stories quite as closely as I had before.
And I stopped expecting things to really change.
Now I still gave; on the outside it looked like I was still quite involved.
I gave them my time and my money.
I gave when I was cornered, when it was difficult to avoid.
And I gave in general when the negative emotions built up enough...
...that I gave to relieve my own suffering, not someone else's.
But truth be told, I was giving out of that place,...
...not out of a genuine place of hope and excitement to help and of generosity.
I was buying my right to go on with my day...
...and not necessarily be bothered by this bad news.
I think that exchange can actually get in the way of the very thing that we want most.
It can get in the way of our desire...
...to really be meaningful and useful in another person's life and in short, to love.