I’ve been given so many things. The concept of giving and not quitting has been rolling around in my head and heart lately, with little spotlights popping up on an event here and an experience there. A few of them have included times when I’ve been the giver.
Mostly, though, the thoughts [and the warm feelings] have been ones of gratitude for the people in my life who have made a difference. Who just showed up. And made a difference. Or moments of “What?!” when someone said or did just the right thing. Like an angel.
These kinds of times, and the feelings they grow, can make us or break us. Well, I should speak for myself: They can make or break me.
Many years ago, when it was just me and my oldest child, living meagerly at best, I had the registration come due for my car.
I wept, having no idea how to pay the bill. How would I get to work? How would I Be able to get the necessary things done? I’d sweated blood [well, not really of course, but it felt like it] for that care, and now I would have to give it up. My heart was really heavy.
The next day, when I checked the mailbox, there was an envelope from the government. The IRS, to be exacting. Opening it, I found a check. It was in the amount needed to pay the registration, plus about ten percent more. Seems I’d added things up wrong [It has been so long ago that I don't remember the details, to be honest], and I was due a refund. In the amount of the check in my own two hands.
What?! Without my seeking it, sending letters, and bugging them, the IRS sent me money just at the crucial time needed?!? Maybe. Maybe it was because God is in His heaven, and He knew this was coming. It was a gift of love.
Think what you may, but I believed [and still do] that I was given a gift. It shifted my heart regarding the giving of myself, out of love.
[Photo from trekearth.com Pretty, huh?]
Since that time, there’ve been times when I’ve given because I felt I had to, or it would be awkward if I didn’t. But there have been better times when I’ve given joyfully, wholeheartedly, just because. Without expecting anything in return, including recognition or credit. It feels really good.
I came up with a personal slogan. Get ready- I’m sharing it with you. It’s a bit like standing almost nude in front of a lot of people [ a recurring dream for some- I've never had it, to be honest, but it sounds really scary and humiliating].
Here it is:
You have not failed until you quit giving.
Sometimes it takes courage to give – in the real and important way of giving. Giving of our time and of our heart is the most expensive, usually. It’s the most meaningful. It can be hard – especially when we don’t know how to do it. Or when we want it to be pure- not tainted by self- aggrandizement or, on the other end of the spectrum, feeling like it’s never enough.
If it’s the best we can do, it’s enough.
I remember the story about the widow’s might, from the New Testament, when she gave what little she had. It was all she had. And she gave it away with faith and trust. She gave with courage, and with something more.
What something more can I add – ongoing – to the stuff in me that I give away? I’m past the whoop de doo of giving or receiving grand temporal gifts. In the end [actually, before the end... I'm getting older, but I'm certainly not dead yet, and I treasure the gifts that cost no money, but require time and thought] who cares about the stuff that costs money??
Like the old, funny [kind of] adage goes:
Ya never see a hearse pulling a U Haul
Never. We can’t take it with us. And, in some families, the stuff left behind causes hideous contention. Sigh. I don’t see the point. I ‘get it’ when things are unfair, or someone is mean and vicious and wants All The Stuff. But it still boils down to what matters At The End.
With a little more faith and goodness, I could give more away. All the time. With more of the intangible goodness.
A smile to a random passerby. Or lots of passersby.
A compliment to a stranger. This is actually one of my favorites. I love that smile that comes my way, and it feels like I may have actually made a difference in their day.
A Thank You for someone for doing any little thing for me. Always, Without ever forgetting or being too preoccupied.
A prayer or thought [or both] for someone who may need it. Even if they don’t realize it, or ask.
A laugh. I love what laughter does. I got to visit my sister and two of her daughters, and the next generation after that. It is always awesome. Part of the awesomeness is that we always laugh. A lot. Over who-knows-what. So much of the time. Yeehaw. It’s a great gift to share.
I have one of the kindest and most pure neighbors in the world. She consistently shows up at my door, in her kind precious manner, with something to let me know that she’s been thinking of me- rooting for me- caring about me. Thank you, Pam. You are an example of understanding the more.
[It's not my door -it's from www.awelldressedhouse.com - but I love the yellow]
So – Those times when I feel like a loser. The times when I feel like I’m not enough, or I blew it, or I can never make it up… Those times when I feel like my gift was scant, and I couldn’t figure out how to do more?
I’m learning to get over myself. And get lost in the giving. I’ve not failed until I quit giving. That’s a good thing to hang onto.
And goodness matters.