faith hope love charity midlife intermission

Faith, hope, love + charity

Growing up I loved the simplicity of the message – Faith, Hope, Love.

I’m not necessarily one to quote scripture or memorize verses but I know this comes from Corinthians 13:13 and I know that in KJV, its translation of ‘agape’ came through as Faith, Hope, Charity.

In this midlife transition to work in the nonprofit sector, I now find myself fully immersed in these words, living out their meaning in every conversation and every decision we make as an organization.

Charity is often associated with helping the less fortunate. It is the ‘haves’ giving to the ‘have nots’. The powerful giving to the less powerful. A movement of monetary funds from the big pile to the small pile.

Back during those growing up years, I would have been considered a member of the ‘have not’ crowd and our small family, consisting of my single mother and me, often found ourselves being lifted up by those that had more.

The irony of my early years is that I saw my mother regularly give away half of what we got.  The pile of toys given to me for Christmas? She always went through it to see who else we could help. Those generous donations of food meant having others over to dinner who may not have enough on their pantry shelves. The gift of tickets to a local dinner theater meant we asked the mother of the five Johnson brothers at my daycare to bring her family along.

I learned that everyone, no matter their status, could give. Charity was not predicated on the social class you belonged to or the balance of your bank account. It’s an intention. A way of touching other lives and living your best life.

For me, the interchange of charity and love is exactly right. They are universally bound. Charity is not about money. At its best, it’s only about love.

No matter your spiritual – or non-spiritual – perspective, having faith in others, in yourself, in humanity is paramount. Holding onto the hope for security and stability in the days ahead will calm the soul. And receiving agape through the love and charity of others – even the furry friend variety, is the greatest of all.

I have seen those blessed with an abundance of financial means give with love and a steadfast belief in the work of loving others. I have watched the incarcerated give their main currency – time – away, to train a dog for someone they will never know. I have watched a person that the world sees as disabled be stronger that any person of advantage I have ever known. I have watched a dog’s investment of service save someone’s life.

In my midlife years, I’m still drawn to the simple ingredients of life…

I have faith.

I have hope.

I see how the charity of love can change lives.


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