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how do we determine needs?

One of the questions that I was asked in my US-2 interview was something to the effect of, "Can you fix people?" and my answer was simple. No. The only person that can fix people is God, and that's only if they're broken in the first place.

I think that white, middle class America (of which I am a part) often sets out to fix people. Well if I just give enough money to my church I can fix people. If I give to the Salvation Army or to the Red Cross, or to any number of other agencies, I'm doing my part in fixing broken America. When I started working for Saranam, it became abundantly clear that I couldn't fix people if I tried. I can pour myself out time after time for people, and the only change I will see has to come from within. It seems to me that our culture just reinforces that whole idea that we can fix people, especially around Christmas time where people are filled with giving and good cheer.

Sunday I'll be serving homeless people downtown as a youth group sponsor. I had to make a decision, I could go up to Santa Fe and have fun with my friends, or I could stay down here and try to make a difference downtown and show people that the UMC youth of ABQ care about the needs of homeless people. But that begs the question, how do we even know what their needs are? I think that we are so quick to just judge and try to fit people into our mold that we neglect to really ask that question.

I know that when I ask my families what they need and what I can do for them, they often are taken aback by that question early on. Most of the time they have had people just assume that they need things that they couldn't use at all. Sunday we'll be passing out socks, backpacks, blankets, anything to help keep people warm. But we're also going to be in conversation with all the people that come through, I know that I plan on talking to people, not about what can be done for them, but about what they might actually need.

I've been thinking about generational differences for awhile now, specifically boomers vs. gen x vs. millenials (or whatever you choose to call all of those). In the context of the work I do with my families (who are all basically defined as Gen-Xers), I don't see the same struggles that I've read about in book after book about these generational differences. Simply put, all of them had different needs, and many of them didn't have time to be angsty in the 80s. (That is a sweeping generalization, but I had to say it to prove my point). I haven't quite figured out where I'm going with that discovery, but it could definitely have a lot to do with any further studies I might do on the differences in generations as well as the differences in Christian thought over the past 50 years.

It seems to be just another issue of needs. What do the different socioeconomic differences do to our needs? Can I ever begin to grasp what someone else might need in their life?

I know when youth go on mission trips, they experience a different culture and can go through some serious culture shock and can begin to understand that not everyone is like them. But I also know that many go on mission trips because they want to make others be like them. I think there is value in our differences. I think I've gained more from working within differences than I ever could if everyone I ever knew were a cookie cutout of me. I think when we as a culture step back and maybe realize that we are not the best or brightest, that maybe then we can truly begin to see that God is the only one who can fix us. Maybe we should stop trying to fix others, so we can work on fixing ourselves.
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2 Comments:

Maybe one of the best ways we can allow God to fix us is by embracing our flaws. How's that for zen?

I should clarify that I don't mean we should love screwing up... I'm saying that by acknowledging our downfalls we can come to understand them better; by recognizing our own fallen state we can relate better to others in the same predicament. And through that kind of humility, God restores us through others. We're all broken. We all have needs. None will be fixed until we're with God.

By Anonymous Parker, at 1:22 PM  

have you sung, #655?

Craig

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:43 PM  

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