For a very long time (most of my life) I considered myself a bad giver. I don’t really know what that means, honestly. I think it was an excuse so that I could ignore the tiny twinge of guilt that pressed at my heart each time I felt overwhelmed by the needs of this world.
I come from a long line of givers. My grandparents gave of themselves to be missionaries. My parents gave selflessly, over and over, throughout my childhood, pouring out their resources to family members in need. They didn’t hesitate to give generously to anyone, and I watched and envied my dad’s loose hold on his own hard-earned money.
As I grew into adulthood, I wanted to emulate these givers in my past, but I didn’t know how. To whom should I give? How did I choose which need to meet? It all became too overwhelming, and I shut down.
It’s not that I didn’t want to give, because I did. I just didn’t know where to start.
A few years ago, our church participated in The Advent Conspiracy with the sole intent of raising enough funds to build a needed facility for an African orphanage. Throughout the month of December, I heard talk of this project, but I didn’t pay close attention. Remember, I had assumed myself a Bad Giver some time ago, so it was easy for me to brush opportunities under the rug assuming someone else would take on the responsibility. And this terrible attitude affected my husband’s ability to give as well, so when Christmas Eve rolled around, along with the big push to give…we missed it.
The roads were icy. We were tired. We turned the car around and stayed home, and in so doing, we missed out on the blessing of being a part of something big. They raised enough money to build two buildings, and we couldn’t share in the joy of that moment because we weren’t there. We vowed then to never live like that again.
That was the year I chose to believe myself a giver.
It was also the year I vowed to teach my children to be givers.
The next Christmas we began what has become one of our favorite holiday traditions – The Family Christmas Party. This was an effort to step outside ourselves, to stretch our children beyond the scope of consumerism, and to give to those outside our own home, and we brought our neighbors and friends on this journey with us. I learned through that event, that people (especially children) love to give. We just need someone to point us in the right direction.
Last weekend we hosted our third annual Family Christmas Party. Each year the turn out has grown larger, the pile of gifts thicker. This year, we upped the ante on our outreach by teaming up with Sole Hope to cut fabric for shoes. We asked guests to not only bring a new, unwrapped toy to be donated to The Ronald McDonald House, but also old jeans and a pair of scissors. In two hours time, we cut enough fabric to make 30 pairs of shoes for children in Uganda.
I won’t pretend that this was easy to pull off. I had a melt down early last week as I tried to prepare for the event complete with a good old fashioned foot stomp. It was stressful, and a lot of work, but the end result was well worth the preparation. As I watched my husband read the story of Christ’s birth to over 30 children inside our living room, my heart swelled because this is what giving is – it’s laying down your life for someone else.
Giving is sacrificing time, funds, sleep, and comfort. It’s hard, and it’s beautiful. It’s scary, and it’s loaded with peace.
As my children grow, and someday begin families of their own, my heart’s desire is that they have a confidence buried deep in their souls in their ability to give. I want them to believe that they are givers so that they never have to doubt. And I want them to know that giving doesn’t have to be massive and over the top. Giving can be as simple as change dropped in the hand of a homeless man, as a hug and a warm cup of coffee to the woman at the food pantry, or a party inside your own home.
By very nature, you as a mother give freely of yourself every single day. You, dear mothers, ARE GIVERS! Believe it, and pass it on to your children. This is how we change the world.