Guest commentary by Pam Parker
Thanksgiving time and stewardship time are linked in many church calendars. If pledges come in by mid-November, budget plans can be made for the following year. With the stewardship push happening during the Thanksgiving season, many folks can comfortably connect their reasons for giving with gratitude.
At the church I attend, Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church in suburban Milwaukee, we have a few minutes during worship services for several weeks before pledges are due where a member gets up to share their stewardship story. As I thought about what I might share, I considered something a little different, but just as personal.
We had heard about the many wonderful reasons members give and do what they can to support the church. And they’ve were great reasons — because the church provides a loving, inviting environment, because it works to be a vehicle for sharing God’s love in our community and the world, because of Bible studies, or Sunday school, music, mission, family events.
But right now, in these hard times, I’m giving rather selfishly. I’m giving because of my own hard times.
I battle depression and have since surviving cancer 10 years ago. I’ve learned that depression is a soul-sucking liar. It convinces me that I am not worthy to be loved. That I am lazy, that I am useless. It messes with my sleep, which then messes with my thinking and makes it hard for me to write. But I believe that writing is a gift God gave me and that I should not squander that gift, but share it.
So, I give to my church community for the very selfish reason that I know, in this season of my life – with an empty nest, fading parents, struggling family members and unpublished words – I know that there are people here who will pray for me and my family, even when depression has convinced me I am not worthy of their prayers. They will pray when I can’t.
I give to church because that is where I am reminded that life is not all about me, even when depression shifts my focus inside. I am reminded to look up and out, to seek hope, to do my best to be a blessing in this world. And sometimes, especially when depression is paying me a visit, all I can do is give money to support the church, because I have nothing else in those moments that I can give.
I hope you give, whatever you can, to keep the place where you worship well-equipped to be the light and hope offering that it is to God’s children.
PAM PARKER is an active member and occasional lay preacher at Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church in Wisconsin. Visit her at pamwrites.net.