I have been driving the minivan this week with something on my mind. I’ve cut carrots, served bananas, changed diapers while thinking about one word. One thought that I can’t replace with anything else right now. One way of living that could alter our lives day in and day out if we adapted to its meaning. I have been challenged in wondering if it could outweigh sadness for some. Deliver others. Fill empty schedules. Set a few people free.
It’s just a word, though. Just one word.
You’ve heard it before.
See? You’ve heard it before. It’s nothing new. You know generous people. You’ve been the recipient of generous people. My home is filled with gifts from generous people. My stomach has been stuffed with food from generous people.
When it comes to generosity and the act of being liberal in giving or sharing, it seems you’re either a generous person, or you’re not.
More often than not, I land on the “not” side. What I’ve discovered on the “not” side is the farther and farther I am into the “not” side, the less free I feel. Sure, I saved myself some time, some energy, but I robbed myself of the inherent fuel that comes with being generous.
Generosity is like gasoline that fills your tank and moves you forward.
It’s the great leveling agent. It has nothing to do with financial status nor what you have to give. It’s not a tangible. It’s not a gift.
It’s a spirit. Generosity is a way of living. A filter through which you process.
You see, everyone needs something.
The wealthy need something.
The poor need something.
You need something.
I need something.
But we can’t all wait for the generous people to do something. Without a doubt, there is a sect of people out there who are inherently generous. Checking in, picking up the check, handing down their jeans, sending kids to college. There are missionaries in Africa, volunteers in Dallas, chaplains praying, friends handing you their earrings when you say you like them. Generous people are active people. But they can’t do it alone.
You have something that someone needs.
Maybe if only your ears for a story.
Generosity is a spirit. It’s an internal prompting and way of living that keeps us from feeling alone, detached, unimportant.
But if you’re like me, a little careful of your “me” time, a little more on the “not” generous side, we have to make the choice.
Recently, a friend of ours shared her SAMs Club membership with us. As in, she could have an extra person on the card with her, and she chose us. (generous!) The week my boys were turning one, I went to SAMs. I piled the chips, cups and cookies up on the conveyor belt to learn they don’t take Visa. That was all I had. Flustered, I nervously called my husband while being tapped on the shoulder, by what I assumed would be an annoyed customer behind me. Instead, the woman tapping me on the shoulder was smiling. “Let me just pay for yours and you can write me a check when you get home.” (so generous!) Floored, I took her up on the offer (I had the twins with me!! Had no time to spare!) and we casually walked out together as though we were long time friends. She admitted she had never done anything like that before. I thanked her, drove home and put the check in the mail to her the next day.
She was generous. She was willing. She was unselfish, unknowing if I would ever pay her back. She took a risk. This is what generosity is. It’s using what you have to benefit someone else while expecting nothing in return.
I have no idea how she benefitted from saving us from a dead end, but I know it saved me hours of time. And more importantly, her generosity filled my heart to overflowing. And she taught me a way to be generous.
We can’t let all the generous people do the work. We have to become the generous people, the unselfish, willing ones to put ourselves out there, and give to someone in need.
If you are not a generous person, by nature, but want to be, it can be done. There is a learning curve. It begins with opening your eyes to others. (We all have needs even if we don’t express them. No one really WANTS to make dinner seven nights a week!) Some clenched fists need to be opened. You do have to open up a bit of who you are to be generous with someone else. Hearts will soon be softened. It truly is better to give than to receive.
Generosity is a spirit, a way of living. All can become generous. You just have to try.
For those, like me, that need practical:
- Make double what you’re making for dinner and take it to a neighbor. (Spaghetti doubles easy)
- Make a batch of brownies and drop it off on your friend’s porch.
- Call your Grandma and see how she is doing.
- Massage your husband’s feet.
- Give a granola bar to the homeless guy (who you pass every day) on the corner of your intersection.
In my head, I’m calling this the generosity project. You can call it whatever you want. But if you are ready to bust out of your cycle and begin to live in the land of the generous, let’s do it.
Praying for all of us to have new eyes to see. Help me get this word off my mind and into my life.