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Fighting Financial Fiascos

Char writes:

I just got my spouse out of the hospital where he had been for ten days. On November 18, he was rushed to the emergency room. We found a tumor the size of a soccer ball hooked to his only kidney. So on November 20th, the doctors removed it.

I’m very much stressed about our finances since he was the only breadwinner in our home. Now he’s on unpaid medical leave indefinitely. We have two girls and no income to pay regular bills with. Yes, he has insurance with his job as welder but it won’t cover the personal bills. Since he has been welding and has just become minus his only kidney you know that means dialysis for at least two years. Will he return to work, but probably not until February and probably not full time. I need your advice!

Tracy says:

My goodness, Char. First, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. That’s a lot to worry and stress about for sure. When it rains, it pours! But you know what? When it rains, it can pour blessings as well!

One of my more recent callings was compassionate service leader. I learned a great deal while serving in that capacity. According to the church, this is the “line of defense” so to speak that we should go to for help.

  1. Self
  2. Family and friends
  3. Visiting Teachers and Home Teachers
  4. The Church
  5. Outside sources (government/community)

You!

Use your food storage! This is what food storage is all about!

Winter isn’t the best time for a yard sale but depending on the climate where you live, it’s certainly possible. Do everything you can to be as self-sufficient as possible.

I was once a little disheartened to learn that a family that I knew had been on Church welfare for a very short time, when I knew that they had five working televisions in the house, hundreds of dollars worth of video equipment and DVD’s, a couple DVD players, different works of art that, combined, totaled into the thousands of dollars, etc.

The breadwinner had lost his/her job. Both adults had college degrees, so while the one was collecting unemployment, the other could have gotten some temporary work, even if it was flipping burgers or waiting on tables to bring in the necessary money. But instead, they were both home, all day, and collecting Church welfare.

What made it particularly disturbing to me, was that at the exact same time, I had a friend who was in much more serious financial straits, and didn’t have the outside financial resources that the previously mentioned family did. Her husband had been injured on the job, couldn’t work, and she was six months pregnant. So she was loading up her car with her three children and driving all around town delivering phone books, newspapers, doing secret shopping, teaching Spanish at an afterschool program and to homeschool students, and doing everything she could to provide for her family, and never asked for Church assistance, even though she really could have, and would have been justified in doing so.

Does the Lord expect us to get rid of everything we own before we turn to the Church? Sell the house, live in a tent, work our fingers to the bone for pithy amounts of money before we ask for help? Of course not. But if we could provide two months of groceries for ourselves by simply having a big garage sale, and selling the four extra televisions, the extra nintendo system, cancelling the cable subscription, the call waiting, caller ID, the cell phone service, etc., I think the Lord would greatly appreciate our determination to be self-sufficient and our respect for the Lord’s storehouse. Then, “after all we can do” we reach out to other sources. And remember, all these things can be happening at the same time; sources one, two, and three don’t have to be mutally exclusive.

Should you need to work, and if your children are school age, it would be best to work during the day, while they’re gone anyway, and try to find a job that would allow you to get them off to school in the morning, and be home before they get off the bus. If your children are still at home, however, it would be best if you could find part-time work in the evenings, so that you could still be home with them during the day. It would also lessen the physical work your husband would have to take on with the children, since they would be in bed anyway. If your husband is unable to really care for them while you work, extended family and close friends can help.

Family and Friends

This is the appropriate time for family to pitch in. My single mother-in-law was in a similar situation. She’d been sick and lost her job and was unable to support herself. Three of her five children subsidized her needs until she was able to take care of herself again.

If you and your husband have brothers/sisters/surviving parents, grandparents, etc. ask them for help. Between all of them, they should be able to help substantially, even if some of them are in tight financial spots themselves. My brother was trying to raise funds to adopt a child. We were already as tight as we could be, between our own bills and the money we were giving to my mother-in-law. But I wanted to help my brother too, especially for such a worthy cause. So I had a yard sale and was able to send him $300. Not a whole heck of a lot, but it was the best I could do and I know he really appreciated it. So, even if someone can give only $50 a month until your husband is well, that will add up with whatever other help you receive. $50 will cover a phone bill, a medical co-pay, or another small item. Every little bit counts. And don’t forget close friends. The ones who almost feel like family they may be willing to help as well with household and childcare.

Visiting and Home Teachers

Obviously, these wouldn’t be a financial support to lean on. However, they can lend help in caring for the children should you need to go to work, visit hubby in the hospital, need priesthood blessings, help fixing the brakes, lawncare, etc. Remember though, our first source for these things is family. But visiting and home teachers can help as well.

The Church

The main way the Church can help is through the Bishop’s Storehouse. This is exactly for what the storehouse was and is intended for. The Church can provide you with food, toiletries, etc., so that what money you do have and any financial support you get from family, can go towards the bills. Talk to your bishop, let him help you. He’ll sit down with you and help you figure out how the Church can best help your family.

Community and Government Assistance

Every community has assistance programs for those who are unable to pay their rent, utilities, etc. Your local city government should be able to give you contact information to any of the non-profit organizations in your area that may be able to help you. Also, your husband may qualify for SSI (Supplemental Security Income). This is a federal income supplement program for the elderly, disabled, etc., funded by general tax revenues. They provide a monthly check depending on the size of your family, assets, etc.

This may seem like the easier route to take, but I encourage you to follow the counsel of the Church and seek help in the proper order. Just think how much less taxes we’d all pay if everyone took care of their own aging parents, disabled family members, etc. And think about all the money that would be freed up to help those who really don’t have family to which they can turn.

As a nation, we should care for those who are less fortunate, but that really is the first obligation of family members. If it turns out that this is a life long dilemma (or one that may last several years), and may cause financial problems for giving and gracious family members, then government assistance may be necessary no matter what. Besides, part of the money that would be helping you, is money that your husband earned and paid in taxes!!

Remember, you’re accountable to the government, just as you’re accountable to the Lord. They will need to know if you’re receiving financial help from other sources, and will make you pay money back to them, if they discover that you had money you didn’t report to them innocent oversight or not. And the government isn’t very forgiving.

Whatever you do, please consult your bishop. Let him know what you’re doing, from whom you’re receiving help, and what your additional needs are. He’ll counsel you and help you to “organize every needful thing.”

This will also be a trying time for your husband as well. It’s his solemn and sacred duty to provide for his family, and being unable to do that will try his spirit and vex his feelings of self-worth. Sometimes, it’s difficult for a man to see his wife being required (and being able!) to take care of everything herself. His feelings of being “needed” can be damaged. So be aware of his feelings, consult with him about all these things. Be sure to include him in everything.

Keep yourself strong as well. Stay close to the Lord, lean on the Spirit for the decisions you make. Study the scriptures, pray often. You’ll be led in the things you need to do to best help yourself, your husband, and your family. And remember, the Lord never gives us a trial we can’t overcome. So if He knows you can do this, trust Him. He knows more than you.

Chin up, sister! All my best.

Alison says:

Tracy gives such an important insight. The steps are carefully laid out for you.

My only problem with these situations, or perhaps my caveat, is that while the Lord won’t give us trials we cannot bear, he often gives us those we can’t overcome at least in this lifetime.

Even the most faithful will have trials and for some, even the most faithful, those trials will sometimes persist.

A dear friend died about five years ago of a brain tumor. He was also my bishop. And I can’t count how many times his soon-to-be widow was told that she just needed to have “more faith.” As if, somehow, that would ensure his cure. I kept wondering why they didn’t realize that that implied that Elder Oaks must not have been “faithful enough” to cure his wife, either.

God doesn’t always intervene and solve our problems. Even if they are major and even if we are doing our best to serve him.

But he has promised us that he will be with us always and that he will bear our burdens even if he doesn’t remove them. And that he can give us peace even amidst the worst earthly messes. Thank heavens, literally, for that.

{ 29 comments… add one }

  • Reader Comment April 20, 2008, 11:25 am

    Debra Russell writes:

    I just read about the sister who’s husband just lost his remaining kidney and will now be on dialysis. I know this question was about how to deal with any financial disaster, however, I have particular knowledge about End Stage Renal Disease and it’s financial consequences. My husband was on dialysis for more than 10 years. ESRD is, I think, the only disease for which a person automatically qualifies for Social Security disability payments. Her husband will be assigned a social worker wherever he gets his dialysis and that person can help him to file for SS disability payments. He needs to apply immediately. His insurance and Medicare will pay for his dialysis treatments. The national kidney foundation may also help this family on a very temporary basis.

    Her husband will be having dialysis three times per week for 4 hours at a tim plus drive time to and from dialysis. It may be that he will be unable to drive himself because some people feel very tired after dialysis. If he is unable to drive himself to and from treatments, the family can look into getting a pass for disabled people on their public transit system. Frankly, he is also looking at further operations and hospitalizations. The wife may find herself running to the hospital at unexpected times. She will need a good back-up support system for child care.

    I agree with all of your comments about asking extended family for help but, unless their families are extremely well off, this kind of illness will break their resources in a very short period of time. Dialysis costs a mimimum of $3,000 per month and that does not included needed medicines. The emotional toll on the family is also heavy, but can be dealt with through faith, planning, and an understanding of the Lord’s plan for all of us.

    I also want this sister to know there is an online support group for dialysis people through Yahoo! Groups. It is called Dialysis_Support and was very helpful to me and my husband on his journey with dialysis.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 20, 2008, 11:26 am

    Holy flaming cow! Did you let us have it! Many of the responses were ?shall we say ?passionate??? Rather than quote all the wrath spewing at us, we’ll try to give you “feel” for the objections we received, and then respond in our usual “fascinating yet punchy” style. (Let us be clear, none of these responses was from Char!)

  • Reader Comment April 20, 2008, 11:27 am

    You stupid people have never suffered my affliction and have no business forming an opinion.

  • klgreen1 April 20, 2008, 11:27 am

    It’s not unusual to learn that the very people who (we think) have life so easy, have endured terrible blows and times of seemingly hopeless privation, suffering, grief, pain, illness, betrayal, and “the thousand natural shocks the soul is heir to,” or a “sea of troubles,” to compact all possible pain into Hamlet’s poetic nutshell.

    Let’s try not to assume that our sisters have never suffered. Most of them have. But this is a great reminder for each of us to remember not to jump in with The Big Discount: “Hey, you think that’s bad? My problem’s worse. Listen to this one, if you think you have problems ?” That’s not very helpful. The other side of The Big Discount coin might sound something like this: “Oh, I’m sure you’re wrong. It can’t be that bad. Buck up, Buckaroo!”

  • Reader Comment April 20, 2008, 11:28 am

    People are going to resent advice that sounds patronizing. It’s only human nature.

  • klgreen1 April 20, 2008, 11:29 am

    Generic guidelines are only that. They are a jumping-off place. An idea or ideal that has worked in many situations might be adaptable to your life. Refusing even to try to use a guideline creatively getting angry or hostile instead is a waste of time. If you don’t want to try it, then move beyond it and try the principle, adapted to your strengths. If you don’t want to participate in any dialog at all, excuse yourself. That’s OK, too. Sometimes it really is best just to keep our own counsel for awhile.

    Let’s try not to waste time with angry or hostile attacks. When we are threatened, we need to use our energy to survive. Let’s try to stay on the same team if possible. There’s lots of support available. We’ll try not to push the Holy Ghost away by welcoming a spirit of contention.

  • Reader Comment April 20, 2008, 11:29 am

    People assume that telecommuters are lying around the house watching TV, when they might actually be working 90 hour weeks at home.

  • klgreen1 April 20, 2008, 11:30 am

    True. This is similar to the notion that women who do not work “outside the home,” do not have jobs. Many moms would feel like they were goofing off if they could work fewer than 90 hours per week.

    We don’t have to allow these misconceptions to make us mad. Why not blow them off, too? Let “them” think or say whatever they please. In fact, we could give them the benefit of the doubt, too, and not assume they have any guess one way or the other about what we are doing with our waking hours. Maybe they are too busy working their own 18 hour days to even notice us. Maybe they have endless admiration for us and just haven’t had an opportunity to say so. Just for fun, why not make that assumption instead?

  • Alison Moore Smith April 20, 2008, 11:31 am

    This is going to make someone mad. I can feel it. So flame away, but you better make a good argument.

    Stereotypes exist for a reason. Mormons have big families. Red-heads have tempers. Are they true of every single individual? No. But they tend to have some basis in some measure of truth.

    One of the draws of telecommuting is the flexibility it provides. Stay up late; sleep in. Go upstairs to work in your bathrobe and bunny slippers if you care to. This kind of hype is shouted from the rooftops and, let’s admit, it does sound just a tad less rigorous than many 9-to-5 jobs. So let’s not get our knickers in a twist when someone picks up on our advertising gimmick and makes it a bit negative.

    There are also many positives to being a homemaker. I know, because I’ve been one for nigh unto 17 years now. But one of the negatives for many people is the lack of structure, the lack of supervision, the lack of accountability. It is possible for many homemakers to while away far too many hours watching Oprah (or worse), crafting, and posting to internet boards. Um ?yeah! Rather than be annoyed that others assume we’re watching TV and eating bon-bons, why not check our behavior and make sure we’re really making the best use of our time?

  • Reader Comment April 20, 2008, 11:31 am

    We are financially destitute because of a business we entered into with other members of the church. We put our life savings into the venture and now we feel, to say the least, abused.

  • klgreen1 April 20, 2008, 11:32 am

    Obviously, this is a very high-risk course. My personal experience is that being anxiously engaged in a good cause is a righteous principle but not a foolproof investment strategy. We should all understand the distinction and decide if we feel the amount of risk is right or righteous for our family. Once committed, we need to recognize that we chose the risk and don’t need to involve ourselves emotionally with the reactions of others.

    We are all equal in our Savior’s eyes, regardless of financial success or failure. Business triumphs are not always part of the gospel. Business risks for products that might be particularly useful to the three-fold mission of the church are admirable, but not part of the mission itself.

    Everybody deserves life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit, not the attainment. Win some, lose some. Many righteous members say, “Never gamble more than you can afford to lose.” Others say, “Go for broke.” It’s your call. But if you’re broke for a long time, try not to be mad at members who didn’t choose the same cause in which to become anxiously engaged, OK? Fair enough?

    Our writer, Char, whose letter we published, suffered staggering health problems in her family. This was the proximal cause of her financial concerns. Our readers expressed related and unrelated financial worries and related and unrelated health challenges and disabilities. But sickness, disability, and death are all horrifically expensive as well as emotionally devastating, so we didn’t attempt to distinguish between them in a short exploration of the church’s general financial advice.

  • Reader Comment April 20, 2008, 11:33 am

    People think computer whizzes are at their disposal, for free. We can’t afford the time, and they know we desperately need the money. Yet they ask for our ‘help’ and never offer to pay.

  • klgreen1 April 20, 2008, 11:35 am

    Oops!! Guilty as charged. Thanks for reminding me of the debt of gratitude I owe to my computer engineer son-in-law, my alpha-tester son, my daughter and daughter-in-law (their computer-savvy wives) and my other techie-hip sons who also, like one reader’s husband, consecrate untold hours running diagnostics, zipping through dazzling graphics and building awesome data bases for free, for our huge extended family and friends. All of these guys work at least two jobs apiece, both wives are up to their eyebrows in wall-to-wall tots as well as devoting another large portion of their already-packed workweeks to demanding church callings. (They’re both pregnant too. Ulp!!) It’s easy to call these kids and get hours and hours of free technical support when they desperately need time for their own pursuits. In the year 2004, people who know computer technology seem doomed to an endlessly jangling phone.

    What would happen if the hubby of our anonymous writer were to say to all the callers to whom he prefers not to consecrate time he actually doesn’t have, and talents that he needs to allocate elsewhere in order to exercise righteous stewardship over his family, “I’m totally slammed at work right now. But as soon as my schedule opens up a little bit I can run over. My fee is $60 per hour. I’ll call you as soon as I have a few hours free, and you can let me know if you still need a hand. Thanks for calling”?

    If people respond by saying dorky things, see above. Your finances are your legitimate stewardship. Some members give away huge chunks of pro bono time to members, for everything from free babysitting to free music, haircuts, domestic services, transportation at all hours, dentistry, legal advice; in short, products and services of all kinds. Others can’t afford to do that or don’t choose to, and always charge or sometimes have to decline.

    We’re not living the United Order at the moment. It’s completely up to the individual there is no automatic assumption. If we do not ask for money, we should not feel any hostility if it is not offered. When we do have enough money, I personally think it’s very cool to pay top dollar to members, family, friends, or neighbors who serve us in any capacity that usually commands a fee. I also think it’s gracious to accept the money gratefully if the shoe is on the other foot. When we are broke, we negotiate the best we can and try not to blame others for our choices or circumstances.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 20, 2008, 11:35 am

    Dear Reader:

    We are not helpless victims being tossed about by the whims of others. “Just say no” may well apply here. If you can’t afford (financially, physically, emotinally) the resources to help someone, you simply turn down the request. What is the point of doing whatever you are asked to do, only to play the martyr the next morning?

    Please don’t pretend that somehow you feel obligated to do everything you are ever asked to do. Didn’t you commit to provide for and nuture your family? When you spend all your resources doing free labor (thereby making it impossible to to fulfill your obligations) aren’t you actually refusing to do something that is expected of you?

    Given that you are going to say “no” to someone, to whom should it be?

  • klgreen1 April 20, 2008, 11:36 am

    It’s natural, expected, and OK to get mad sometimes. We’ll hear you out! But, as President Gordon B. Hinkley, the son of educators, once said, “The key to learning is repetition.” We’ll probably just repeat the principles and share experiences that helped us learn. We hope we are always learning! Thanks for the lessons you bring to our column. You bring us information, real-life emotions we can relate to, and support we deeply appreciate.

  • Reader Comment April 20, 2008, 11:38 am

    A reader from Arizona, writes:

    I am truly blessed to have the happy home that I have and the wonderful children that chose to come to our home. They bless my life in countless ways. My eternal companion is truly my best and truest friend. I am reminded daily of the lessons I have personally learned from “putting up” with this disease ?I, like many others that have debilitating illnesses (at least the ones with the gospel for an anchor), would not trade the lessons learned for an easier time for myself, but I am also often found questioning my ability to cope with what I am given. Just this last week I was reminded again that my children also have valuable (actually beyond value) knowledge and confidence that has been built through the test of their faith in a Heavenly Father to bless me.

    Last weekend in a blessing I was “instructed.” I was given a peek at the larger picture through the words of my Heavenly Father spoken through a worthy priesthood holder. The experience made me weep; however they were tears of joy. And I felt a bit chastened for my unwillingness to “see” the bigger picture. One thing my disease has done for me is give me time to think (in some cases dream) about my blessings, time and again. Truly my husband (who never complains) and our children are precious to me beyond my life here on this earth, and our eternal family means more to me than comfort now. Like many sisters in the gospel, I want to be a perfect mother, which I am personally so far from being. However I sometimes “remember” that if I will leave Heavenly Father in the driver’s seat (so to speak) he can get me there. What the world sees as the perfect mother and what HF “knows” to be the perfect mother are vastly different. Being a perfect housekeeper and great cook are nice, even desirable but in the future scheme only the lessons learned and service given through these skills seems “eternal” to me any more. That each of us has different ways of learning is certainly true. I was reminded in that blessing “in very clear wording” that these trials are indeed gifts from a loving Heavenly Father whose plan for me as an eternal wife and mother, far out-reach what I can imagine for myself. I would choose the “easy way” too often if left on my own. Some of us are more stubborn than others and need a bigger whack on the head, so to speak, in order to learn these things.

    Another thing I was reminded of in my “instruction session” is the blessing of meeting so many choice daughters of Heavenly Father who also suffer from this “learning process” and who are spiritual giants because of it. This special list of sisters too is a “gift” from Heavenly Father. For many reasons a gift but a truly great gift; one that I am thankful for also. I believe that whatever good we do for each other is far outweighed by what we gain. The more we try to bless the lives of others the more we are blessed. We can never get ahead in that game. Heavenly Father is the master at it and I for one am glad he is. I have at times needed my support system so much. Would I have survived without them? Probably, but it wouldn’t have been as comfortable, because I wouldn’t have had the knowledge that they were out there praying for me. What comfort that brings.

    This email has gotten way too long, so I will close; but I felt I needed to share my thoughts. I did feel the need to let you know that I, too, feel blessed by what your Circle brings to my life. As Sisters in Zion we all work together as the song goes.

    May the Lord bless you for your efforts in this work.

  • spitfire April 23, 2008, 9:44 pm

    I find this topic of particular interest. Let me preface my remarks/perceptions by saying I have been a poor college student, a struggling wife of a college student, a single mother with a couple of semesters of college & have lost my job x 2, both unexpected, corporate restructuring or closure of the company. So, what I’m trying to say, I’ve “been there, done that”, please don’t take me to task for my feelings at this point in my life.

    Rarely, have I received a monetary handout during any of these times, I found myself trying to decide on paying the light bill or buying food & no, there was no money or food that magically appeared because I had paid my tithing! That being said, I perservered & pushed on the best I could. I’m not asking for sympathy but only for understanding.

    I realize that health problems & issues can not be anticipated or avoided & they are tragic at any time, regardless of the impact they have on one’s life & their familes lives. It is a struggle & a test of faith & endurance, and most often a test of our testimony.

    All that being said, here’s a few concerns I have encountered:

    1. Young couples who NEED church assistance or financial assistance from their family but can’t give up the internet, cell phones or movie rentals or nights out with their friends. Where is the sacrafice?
    2. Repeated poor financial decisions. History just doesn’t change & each business effort is going to be the next big windfall. It’s like the famous commercial, “they made money the old fashion way, the EARNED it”…nothing comes easy, especially money, it is to be earned by hard work & sometimes long hours & not magically found via the next easy business venture.
    3. If you do business with church members & get burned, they are people with flaws…I personally do not do business with church members. I know that sounds callous, but I too, have been burned, but I chose to react by assuming responsibility for my past choices & then chose not to enter into those relationships again.
    4. Follow the Prophet’s counsel (past & present)…don’t buy or live on credit, save for a rainy day, get your education, obtain food storage. All may sound trite, but in today’s economy, those suggestions are sounding pretty good!!
    5. Take responsibility for your decisions, no one has forced you to do anything…whether it’s offering free service to others (i.e. computer repair) or entering into financial/business relationships. It is a choice, you can always say no.

    I have witnessed many behaviors over the years & have literally watched as individuals & couples started on a downward spiral. It would start with that vacation with extended family that they really couldn’t afford but went anyway. Then a major appliance broke, but their savings had been used to go skiing with friends, an old mission companion. So they charged the appliance. Well, that expense maxed out their card, so when their daughter got sick & they were broke there was no $$ for the prescription & they couldn’t charge it. One thing led to another & the next thing you knew, the husband lost his job because he ignored the warning signs that the company was going under, thinking that paying their tithing was a form of protection from job loss. And there was not savings or food storage to help, but lots of electronic equipment & memories of “fun things” that they did. I’m not advocating that people don’t enjoy life, but when “wants” take over your life to the point that you can not be self reliant when times get hard, then the wants are nothing but obstacles to being free from the bondage of debt & problems. Those situations control your you & your life instead of you controlling your life. Just my thoughts…..

    My views may be unpopular, but I have watched too many people bring unhappiness upon themselve because of poor choices. I do have compassion for those that have no control over health issues or unexpected trials, but often much of what we consider to be trials are sometimes self inflicted.

  • Tinkerbell April 23, 2008, 9:57 pm

    spitfire, I agree 100%. This is a big issue for my husband and I. We have several people on both sides of our families who have made unwise financial decisions (or who continue to make unwise decisions) but who expect to be bailed out. We sacrifice. I feel that we live the law of consecration the best we know how. We have a responsibility to be wise stewards and plan for the future for ourselves and our children. I feel that we have family members who expect us to constantly bail them out. Or because we have so “much” (which we don’t – we just aren’t in debt like everyone else, so we have a little breathing room), we are expected to share. It is really frustrating. I am trying to figure out the balance between charity and self-reliance. I know I have a responsibility to give, to help the poor, even (and especially) my own family. But, I also think they have a responsibility to be responsible. The phrase “after all we can do” keeps going through my mind (as in I should step in and help “after all they can do”). But, what if they haven’t done all they can do? What if they haven’t tried? I know I am not supposed to judge, but honestly, I feel like my husband and I have worked and clawed our way out of poverty, and as soon as we can finally breathe, others are knocking at our door, willing to mortgage our future to take care of their’s. The stress is suffocating me. Sorry to unload like this. spitfire, you hit my nerve. I am just so confused. :confused:

  • davidson April 23, 2008, 10:57 pm

    Spitfire, I thought your comments were so good. Sadly, they probably come from your seeing some pretty difficult situations in your calling. And boy, Tink, I’ve been round and round with this so many times in my head that I’m getting dizzy. Is charity, in the long run, giving? Or not giving? Offering help? Or helping them by requiring them to help themselves by NOT bailing them out? If you give a kid things he wants, are you being charitable, or are you hindering him? If it’s not okay to give your CHILD everything, then why pay fast offerings to help people who have made some poor choices? (Not everybody who comes to the bishop for financial help is a poor, struggling widow or a father with huge, unexpected hospital bills. At least in our experience, it is quite often the drugging, drinking, carousing people who have money for tanning salons but not for their house payments, and they come back time after time.) I always wonder. There are scriptures to support all those lines of thought. What if the man whom the good Samaritan helped was lying there in the road the next day? And the day after that? And for weeks to come? What if he were standing outside WalMart for a year? and never seemed to be doing anything to help himself? In confusion, my husband asked the stake president what he should do about those people. He said to let the Spirit guide him case by case, but if he had to err, to err on the side of kindness and generosity. My husband worries about using sacred money for such situations. There are widows who DON’T have enough, but who are paying their tiny fast offerings to support the carousers. My husband has been a bishop for over a year now, and his most difficult problems of all have been in dealing with these people. I don’t know about them because he breaks confidences; I know about them because they storm into my house and make demands, even to me. It’s the same people, over and over again. Granted, some of them may be mentally ill. And what to do there? Even their families don’t want to help them. It’s hard to keep charity in my heart sometimes, and to know what to do.
    I finally told one of them off, and she called the stake president sobbing and lied her head off. The stake president called me and got mad at ME. After hearing it all, he finally realized that she had lied to him, too, but it continues to strain the relationship between the stake president and me, and not because I haven’t tried to make amends.

    OOOOooo. Breathe in and out, Davidson.

  • Tinkerbell April 23, 2008, 11:03 pm

    Wow, davidson. I just have to say that I am glad I am never going to be a Bishop.

  • Tinkerbell April 23, 2008, 11:06 pm

    I might be a Bishop’s wife, though, and I am not looking forward to that. I’ve been a Bishopric member’s wife for 5 months now, and I am still swearing under my breath about it. Just when I thought I was so righteous, along came this calling to quickly humble me.

  • davidson April 23, 2008, 11:09 pm

    Hear ya.

  • jennycherie April 24, 2008, 4:33 am

    Posted By: davidsonThere are widows who DON’T have enough, but who are paying their tiny fast offerings to support the carousers.

    It is frustrating but we have to separate the two. The widow (or whoever it is who pays their fast offerings out of their meager income) will be SO blessed for any time amount she faithfully pays. The windows of heaven will open for her. The carousers who may take advantage of the system will be accountable for what they’ve done–maybe just not now. So many times when I dealt with welfare issues in the past, I would have an appointment to visit with a particular family and think, “oh now, not them again.” And the logical part of my nature would see that they had expensive cable and highspeed internet and why-exactly-am-I-here-to-help-them. . . but *always* the Spirit testifies that it is right. My logical mind may not understand and the people receiving it may not even be appreciative, but the Lord understands. I sincerely believe that when we give, especially to the most difficult people–the ones who are undeserving, unrepentant, and ungrateful–it is more for *our* benefit than for theirs.

  • facethemusic April 24, 2008, 6:44 am

    I sincerely believe that when we give, especially to the most difficult people–the ones who are undeserving, unrepentant, and ungrateful–it is more for *our* benefit than for theirs.

    Aaaaaaah– too true, too true.

  • jendoop April 24, 2008, 7:22 am

    These comments are hitting home for me. The missionaries recently asked us to fellowship a new member family. They have major financial problems, no phone, no car, no jobs two kids under two. They are making some effort to get their lives together and they are changing their lives in spiritual ways too. But every time I give them a ride they ask for more. I gave them a ride to the welfare office, on the way there they asked if they could buy our mini van for $750. On the way home they asked if I would babysit their babies every weekday. Maybe they are just in the habit of asking for help, maybe they don’t believe they can do it on their own. I gently told them no and tried to be encouraging that they could find other solutions. (Although we have given them rides and bought formula and diapers when they were completely out) It makes me sad that I brace myself everytime I see them, prepared to defend the onslaught of “I need, I need”.

    Self reliance is such a powerful thing. I remember reading a talk that mentioned of the power of self reliance. If you give a handout that person internally gets a message that they are incapable of taking care of themselves, that they need someone else to take care of their needs. If you help that person meet their own needs they receive strength and confidence to meet the next crisis. (I couldn’t find that talk but found another really good one – Marion G. Romney, Principles of Temporal Salvation, ? Tambuli, Oct 1981, 1)

    It comes down to what kind of service you are willing to give. Do you want to give them $5 and not worry about it for another week? Or could you pray and ponder how you can help them help themselves and have those difficult conversations. Of course no one will think you are charitable when you won’t do everything they want, but it was the same with the Savior. Is it about saying you were charitable and patting yourself on the back for giving the $5 or is it about knowing you did the right thing and it took effort and in the end they were mad at you anyway? Charity doesn’t always mean the person on the receiving end being happy about what they received. There are plenty of times I’m not happy about the things God does for me, but it is still great charity.

  • Tinkerbell April 24, 2008, 9:13 am

    Good points, jendoop.

  • jennycherie April 24, 2008, 9:17 am

    Posted By: jendoopIf you give a handout that person internally gets a message that they are incapable of taking care of themselves, that they need someone else to take care of their needs. If you help that person meet their own needs they receive strength and confidence to meet the next crisis.

    beautifully said! I think I’m going to remember to use this the next time my students start whining for extra credit!!!

  • spitfire April 24, 2008, 8:14 pm

    I have had several situations as a result of my calling…even have had mothers call me when the Bishop “cut off” certain families. I was privy to the situation but could not break the confidence & provide info to the distressed mother. What I wanted to say was “if your son in law would sell his $42K truck & get off his lazy butt & get a second job, they would not be in the mess they were it!” This was a couple that knew the delivery truck schedule better than anyone in the stake including the workers at the Bishop’s storehouse!! So, yeah, I get miffed about certain situations, but my job is to support & not judge. But my feelings or perceptions are based on years of having friends or others have trials & challenges. Perhaps I’ve gotten hard in my old age, but DH & I are debt free, except our mortgage. We too have struggled to get to that point & are now enjoying our sacrafices of the past years. My DH laid in a foxhole in Vietnam to protect our country & served in the military for 27 years before he retired, then he worked another 15, then retired permanantly. So, yes he golfs 3-4 x a week & we travel & enjoy ourselves. But we have paid our dues to get to this point. We saw to it that all of our children (his & mine) were educated & taught to be self reliant. If they are in a bind, they are on their own!! And WHY?? Because ALL of them make MORE $$$ than we do (with the exception of my single son!). So if they spend their $$ recklessly & irresponsibly they know better than to come to us! It is hard to determine what is “charitable” & what is enabling behavior. And for that, I’m glad we have the blessing of personal revelation. A wise individual told me if I lent $$ to someone, I should only do so if I could live without being paid back. That has been the standard I have lived by. Perhaps that isn’t the most Christlike. But for me it has worked. Personally, I think $$ is like a testimony. It needs to be earned, cultivated & cherish, but shared when appropriate. But it is best when each of us have our “own” so to speak. I don’t know, I’m rambling…..it’s late..got to hit the bed!

    Hugs to all!

  • Ray April 24, 2008, 9:16 pm

    “A wise individual told me if I lent $$ to someone, I should only do so if I could live without being paid back.”

    Amen – just change “lend” to “give”.

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