The Faith Involved in Giving and Receiving
I think we’ve all been there, we’ve all had some kind of struggle where we’ve needed something. Perhaps the first thing that comes to your mind is money. It’s a common need. As a matter of fact, many of the things that we need, could be solved by money. You need a car? Well instead of getting a car, if you got money you could buy one. You need a bed? Someone could simply hand you the money and you could get a bed. In the world in which we live now, I think that that’s the way that many of us think. It’s not a bad thing per se, but I think that we miss out on a lot with that kind of thinking.
As a mother of twins, when I found out that we were having twins, I worried. I worried about how we were going to afford to get them everything that they needed. Clothes is a BIG thing. Children grow SO FAST. I was amazed at the sheer amount of things that were given to us. We were given so many clothes for example, that we only bought the twins clothes ONCE in the first two years that they were born, and that was only because I was so behind on the laundry and they were particularly ill and having “blow outs”. Well…as time went on, they grew out of their clothes, and again, I began to worry. A piece of me wanted to give their old clothes away, while another piece of me worried about what we would do if we were to have another kid. If we saved all of their clothes, we wouldn’t have to buy anything for the next child. If you are anything like me, I want to give you some words of encouragement.
Luke 6:38 says Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
I bet you think I’m just going to give you a lecture and some “holier than thou” routine, but I’m not. I always struggled with this verse actually. Because pretty much in my mind, when I had it, I felt like I needed to keep it, whether I needed it or not because who knows how I will get it again in the future? My thought process is kind of like this (let’s stick with the clothes example), I have a TON of clothes for the kids now, and we have jobs and whatnot NOW, but what if in the future we have another child, we fall on hard times, and we lose our jobs? Then what? So why not keep every stitch of clothing that we have now? This doesn’t just go for my kids either, since I had the twins I’ve lost quite a bit of weight. There are clothes that hang in my closet now that couldn’t even cling to my body on a wing and a prayer. My logic? I might gain weight again! Then what? All my friends are on these crazy diet kicks, so they won’t be able to give me any clothes. What will I do? That was my mindset. I know, it’s crazy, but before you judge me, how many time exactly have you told someone that you didn’t have any money to help them because all you had was $5 left in your pocket and you were saving that in case you needed something extra to feed your family with? How many times have you not given someone a ride somewhere because you thought that you wanted to save your gas JUST IN CASE you needed a little extra at the end of the week? I think we all have these tendencies.
Well, here I sit, in my home, cleaning and bagging up clothes for two different families. My kids just turned 4 and I still have GOBS of 18 month clothes sitting here….you know….for my imaginary future child born into a life of certain poverty. Where did my change of heart come from? At what point did I start just giving our stuff away? I’ll tell you when AND why. I’ve been there. I’ve been there with NOTHING. When literally I had $0 in my purse, and I needed a bit of extra gas to get home. I have borrowed $5 off of a friend to buy flour and sausage from the store so that I could come home and make biscuits and gravy for my kids for dinner, knowing that I couldn’t afford anything else. Once, I made pizza crust FROM SCRATCH, and used what we had in the house to MAKE pizza sauce. It was hard, and it hurt, but what hurt more was knowing that there were people who KNEW what we were going through, and couldn’t be bothered to help, while they sat in their homes and ordered 6 pizzas for their family with plenty left over. It hurt to see people I knew and who knew what we were going through take their families out to nice dinners while we struggled, and not offer to help. Then it clicked with me. We do the same thing. We have TONS of stuff we don’t use and don’t need that people WE KNOW need that just sits here and collects dust. That’s COMPLETELY bonkers.
The first time I got rid of some of the boys’ stuff it was HARD. Nothing but a few days later, I get a message from my sister online that she has sent the boys clothes, from STATES away. I got home from work one day, and there were BOXES on my front stoop, about six or seven, FILLED to the top STUFFED. And when I say STUFFED, you need to understand something, we are military kids. We know how to get as much stuff into something as possible. When I broke the tape on the boxes, clothes FELL OUT. From then on, it got easier. As a matter of fact, what hindered me from giving away clothes was not me, but other people. Other people had to say “oh we are overwhelmed with clothes right now! No more for a little bit please!” My sister-in-law has continued to give our twins bags and bags of clothes, and a friend from our church has given us quite a few as well. So now, we are in a position where we get to LOOK for opportunities to give away the clothes that the boys don’t fit because they’ve been in storage for a while, and it feels SO GOOD to know that we CAN help someone else.
On that same token, we struggled for quite some time as we only had one vehicle. Now, this one vehicle was a serious improvement on the two broken down ones we had, but yet and still…it was difficult for our family. Still, we gave rides to people. One of my friends looked at me one day and said “why would you drive me to my house? I live 30 minutes completely out of your way, it’s not on the way to anywhere….I’d never do that for anyone”. To me though, the answer was so simple. I explained that I remember what it was like to be completely dependent on other people. I remembered the frustrations of public transportation when the bus doesn’t show up on time, or when the routes are changed at random. I remember what it was like to have to walk to the grocery store and have to try to tote 10 bags of groceries home. I get it. It’s not fun. So 30 minutes out of our way to help someone who is in a situation that we’ve actually been in? That’s nothing. Then came a point where the one vehicle just was not working. I work day shift and my husband was switched to nights, except he worked in a different town, and there was no way that we could work it out that I could even get to him in enough time to get him to work, and even if I could, it would mean that I’d have to wake up the boys in the wee hours to go get them. Well…guess what….that never happened. Once again, God blessed. We were given a car. A nice one too, something that we would not have been able to afford. And…this isn’t the first time that we’ve been given a vehicle either. Not only did this allow us to get back and forth to work, but by the grace of God both of us are now attending school. Without transportation, this would have been next to impossible. It also frees us up to help others, give people rides and whatnot. We talk a lot about wanting to be able to get to the point where we can just give someone a vehicle. Yet and still, we are tested. I was in a pickle not too long ago, twice actually, where I was worried I wouldn’t have the gas to get home. Yes, at least in one of those instances, I had used our gas to help someone else out. Yet, God provided, once, he had a friend offer to loan me money, and the second time, the man that runs the gas station just GAVE me gas. You can’t tell me that’s not the work of God.
One of the things about giving, is that you help someone who is actually IN the situation you are trying to avoid. No, I don’t want my kids to go unclothed, but there’s actually someone who is so close to that, that maybe without help, their kid would have NO clothes. No, I don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road with no gas, but maybe without help, there’s someone who won’t make it home at all. Something I’ve learned about giving, is that sometimes, it makes room for God to give you more. We are at the point now, where I REJOICE when I hear that someone needs something that we have to give. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see ANYONE in need, but there are times when I think about all the stuff we have and pray “God! Please help us to give this away!” and God shows us someone who is in need, and I always want to thank THEM, but it’s kind of hard to say “I’m sorry that you are struggling but THANKS SO MUCH! I’ve been wanting to give this to somebody!” (Yeah, I won’t be getting any points for tact when I get to heaven…that’s OK).
The funniest thing to me though, is the things that God gives us that….we actually forgot we even wanted. Recently, a friend sent me a message and said “I have an old style popcorn maker, like they have at the movie theaters. I was wondering if you wanted it?” See…she had only used it once or twice, and for some reason, she didn’t want it anymore, but what she couldn’t have known was this: as a military brat, I’ve taken a TON of flights, and my favorite thing about flying is that there are these magazines called “Sky Mall”. As a kid, I dreamt of having kids one day, and having a type of movie theater in my home, complete with said popcorn maker, a hot dog roller thing, a nacho cheese heater etc. I’ve still wanted that, but with everything on my plate, it’s like a long lost thought in the back of my mind. When she offered to give it to me, I cried, because it was almost like having God just say “here honey, I was thinking about you”. Not only that, but I was kind of in this place where I was not feeling very close with anyone, even those saying that they were my friends. It was like a breath of fresh air.
I said all of that to say this: you will NEVER out give God. Give to others, without thinking about how this might affect you years from now. See the blessings, and feel how awesome it is to give to others. In this holiday season, we tend to think about the great gifts we plan to give: and X-box here, an HD TV there, but there are people around you in REAL need at all times, that could use something, that YOU HAVE to give. Giving is infectious too. We’ve been teaching the twins about giving, and the other night, one of them looked at me and said “Mommy, I want to put this in the bag to give to the other kids that don’t have anything”. Yes, it made me proud. I sincerely hope that we can all learn to be a little more giving. Think of the difference that we can make in other people’s lives. I challenge you, instead of posting your “30 days of thankfulness” on Facebook for people to read this month, or instead of obsessing about what time you have to get up for Black Friday shopping this year, take one day a week for the next two months, and meet the needs of someone else with the supplies that you ALREADY HAVE. See what a difference it makes in the lives of you and your families.