Generosity – a Mother’s Call

When I started this blog in the Spring I touched briefly upon the generosity conflict that I inherited from my family of origin. The inaugural post was read by approximately one person—and I do believe that person was me—so please don’t mind if I revisit this briefly since it will be new to most of you.

My sister and I spent a good deal of our childhood caught in a tug of war between a father with a nomadic, magnanimous spirit—who appeared to be most fulfilled when emptying his pockets and giving everything away—and a mother who was desperately trying to provide her children with the necessities of life. Mom worked tirelessly to move our family a few small steps forward, only to find that my dad preferred to stay behind.

My father never gambled or drank, but he had a weakness of a much different and more impenetrable variety—one that was often equally detrimental to our fortunes, or lack thereof. Dad was a practitioner of a kind of hospitality that was indeed so radical that it repeatedly stood at odds with his responsibilities as a husband and a father. This was in a nutshell the backdrop for our family’s battleground and it eventually became the no-man’s-land that drove my parents apart.

Central to the theatre of war was dad’s tendency to bring colourful characters home from the bus station, the bar stool, the pool hall—or wherever he would find them. He was a dedicated disciple of Christ when it came to embracing the outcast and in that sense I will forever remember him as one of the most Christian people I’ve ever known.

Of the many strangers dad brought home most were good people who were down on their luck and just needed a helping hand. For the most part he could count on my mother to be more than gracious when he came through the door with a wayward soul. But there were also a few narrow escapes along the way. But for the grace of God, and my mother’s capacity to put her foot down when her children’s safety was on the line, someone might have indeed done us harm.

Strangely enough, for much of my life I always thought of dad as the generous one, having mistaken my mother’s voice of reason as irrefutable proof of her lack of charity. For years the air of judgment I carried caused me to be less than kind to her, particularly during my adolescence. I did not see how many risks my dad took to answer God’s call—one that seemed so very singular in nature—and I was blind to how much more difficult my mother’s call to provide for and protect her children became as a result of his actions.

During those challenging years, my mother walked a tightrope with tremendous grace; skillfully balancing the act of showing compassion for those in need, while honouring the sacred trust of caring for and protecting her children.

A mother’s call is not an easy one and it has many, many layers. I am grateful to God for having humbled me, and for giving me the eyes through these last few years to see my own mother in a more generous and loving light.

In this blog, Michelle Hauser, manager of annual giving, tackles the topic of generosity—from small stories of daily inspiration to the overall mission of the church.

  • Brigette E. Sheppard

    I have read this before but did not click the ‘like’. It’s a fine line we walk & our understanding as children often is not realized till we have our own. It’s an inspiring story! TY Blessings!

    • Michelle Hauser

      Thanks for your kind words Brigette.  My view has changed so much four decades in…I wonder how much it will change after four decades more!  Blessings to you as well.

  • Hazel

    I have a friend who has this saying “just because you are a Christian, that doesn’t mean that you have to leave your brain at the church door” and I thought of it immediately upon reading your blog.  Excellent blog by the way – I just had this thought – really they could be developed into bible studies.  Keep up the thoughful, insightful writing 

    • Michelle Hauser

      Thanks very much Hazel, and for the suggestion about possible bible studies.  I am not a theologian–I still consider myself a student, and so I don’t feel as confident elaborating on the scriptural passages that I often connect to or isnpire these stories.  I will pray about that.