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Rose petals in a gift box.
Photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer

By Jerrica KF Ching

Within the definition of liberality, the key point that stood out to me is the giving of something for the benefit of others, in appropriate amounts so that we are not hoarding, but also so that we are emptying ourselves. For many of us here at AAWOL, as well as our readers, we find fulfillment in serving others. But what happens when we give so much of ourselves, that we soon burn out and begin running on fumes?

As a mental health therapist, a great deal of my work is teaching clients how to set boundaries with others. Clients of all ages report to me that they are stuck, uncertain, and feel torn within their interpersonal relationships with others. I help them process the pros and cons of what happens when boundaries are set. A pro is that they are protecting their emotional wellbeing, and finding their own voice and identity within conflict. A con is that the other party may inflict feelings of guilt, retaliation, or fear when a boundary is set.

A parallel process occurs when I help clients set boundaries; there are some clients who do not possess assertiveness skills, and may need additional support. What this looks like is often that I, as the therapist, will be the one to invite the other party to our session, contact a schoolteacher to voice concerns from a parent, or communicate needs to our medication management team. When I do this however, it soon becomes a habit, and rather than clients learning to advocate on their own, I soon become the messenger. I have inadvertently enabled a client into believing that they are unable to do things on their own. Was this my intent? Of course not! But sometimes in our desire to show care, compassion, and help for others, we often give so much of ourselves for the sake of others well-being.

As I reflect on the word, liberality, I am reminded that giving for the benefit of others is a gift God gave to me, yet not a gift meant to be given away completely. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 captures this for me: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

For all of us that use our gifts to help others, may we remember that finding the balance between giving all and giving nothing at all is something that God has intended for us to learn and understand. Setting boundaries and practicing liberality does not make us stingy, but keeps us going so we can continue to share God’s work through our service to helping others.

Jerrica KF Ching grew up on the island of Oahu, Hawaii and currently lives in the beautiful state of Washington, working as a licensed mental health counselor and Asian/Pacific Islander mental health specialist at Columbia Wellness. She graduated with an MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling from George Fox University, where she is now an adjunct professor and supervisor. She finds joy in sharing her compassion with students on the importance of recognizing and acknowledging racial and cultural differences in others. Her research on racial colorblindness has been published in The International Journal of Social Science Studies.

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Photo by Marco Verch

By Emi Iwanaga

(Poem based on Luke 23:1-7)

He stands before Pilate, hands bound, body covered with wounds.

Surrounded by a crowd, agitated, one by one speaking out against my Teacher.

I observe His eyes search the faces of his accusers. Some seemingly intent on their mission with stony hearts, their eyes never meet His. And there are others, when their eyes meet His, stumble over their words, falter for just a bit or in that moment their voices lower, and yet they continue stating their
accusations.
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Photo by Tax Credits

By Diana Gee

Of all of Aristole’s 12 virtues, liberality was one I had to look up to understand. It’s not a word that is used anymore, at least not in the way it originally meant. Perhaps a more familiar term would be generosity, which is practiced faithfully by many followers of Jesus. However there is a component of wisdom in liberality that is not captured by the use of “generosity.” (more…)

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Photo by Milan Čarňanský

By Ajung Sojwal

The word “temperance” for me, connects most strongly to The Temperance Movement in history against alcohol consumption. Being in a place to hear life stories of many parishioners, I am deeply aware of the destruction alcoholism brings into the lives of individuals, families and communities. (more…)

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Photo by Matthias Ripp

By Angela Ryo

Growing up, my mom used to always say, “Everything in moderation!” She became Presbyterian because she loved doing everything “decently and in order.” Although I was raised in a Presbyterian church, our youth group worshiped like Pentecostals. We cared about the movement of the Holy Spirit and sometimes that movement seemed to defy order. (more…)

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Photo by darkday

By Sarah D. Park

When I meet someone for the first time, I find that I am struck by their collective narrative first before giving their individual narrative a chance. I’ll take in what they’re wearing, how they’re standing, the color of their skin, the range of vocabulary, you name it, and by default, my brain will come to certain categorical conclusions that will help me better navigate how to know this person standing before me. (more…)

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Courage: To Mourn

Photo by The Wandering Angel

By Wendy Choy-Chan

I got the news of the sudden passing of my cousin. He was just a few years older than me, but his children are still very young, the littlest twins are only around two years old. He always posted pictures of his four children on Facebook, of family outings or just them hanging out in the house. It’s hard to believe that he’s gone, just like that. (more…)

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