One of my dear friends just turned 30. I am actually turning 30 this summer as well. I asked her what she was thinking about as she approached this milestone birthday, and Luisa told me that she wants to give 30 gifts this year. And they aren’t all gifts, but also time, resources, and ideas. She is reading a book that I just wrote to give me feedback. She didn’t say it was one of her 30 gifts, but to me it is.
Recently I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s new book called The Broken Way. In one of the chapters, on the morning of her 40thth birthday, she describes not being able to rise from her bed under that weight of the day and life. But she does rise from her bed and she decides to spend her birthday going around town with her family, giving gifts to strangers even though she felt empty herself. Leaving envelopes filled with money on car windshields to cover the hospital parking fees. Buying a random family’s meal at the diner. Paying for a stranger’s whole shopping cart at the supermarket. Treats and surprises dusted all over a town as a way to give and pour out: Ann’s key to being filled.
My friend’s resolution and Ann Voskamp’s inspiration really got me thinking about how I can be more generous in this 30th year of my life. How can I pour myself out -- and not just my money? How can I empty to become more full?
My husband would give our car away with a smile on his adorable face, while I give 10% of our salary away begrudgingly. I actually love to give if it doesn’t cost me anything. My leftovers, the hand-me-downs, things I am doing already. I hope you are laughing. I am sure the point of giving is for it to cost me something. But giving something that costs me time or money I feel like I don’t have really forces me to dig deep and grit my teeth.
Generosity is living in a state of abundance, not a state of scarcity, which I think I live in at times. There isn’t enough time. There isn’t enough money. There isn’t enough energy. It’s like I am living in a zero-sum game where either you or me will have enough, but we both can’t be full. God can’t supply. God can’t replenish. God can’t provide all I need.
You might be on a tight budget and there is literally no way you can give any more monetarily, but from my experience the people who are most generous and are living in abundance aren’t the wealthiest people in the world. From my time living in Africa, I have found the most generous people in the world living in a hut and walking 5 miles to get water, but when I come into their home they kill their only chicken for me to eat.
I am mostly writing this blog as a reminder to myself to make a list of ways I can give, and to give with more of a heart of fullness and abundance. Here are some ideas to help you start a list of your own.
- Take care of a friend’s kids once a month.
- Use points to fly out an old friend for a visit.
- Look for a way to serve your husband that he doesn’t expect. Get up with the kids on Saturday and let him sleep.
- Clean a friend’s house who just had a baby.
- Open your home to people that might be alone for Thanksgiving. It’s hard to part with family time, but maybe your family has a lot to offer during the holidays.
- My sister had a policy a few years ago that if someone complimented something she was wearing or a purse she was carrying, she would give it to them. There is no way I could do that, but I love that she did.
- Make a list of the 10 most important people in your life and ask yourself -- what is one thing I can do to serve them in the next three months or how I can be praying for them?
- Be generous in forgiveness and understanding. This is the hardest one for me.
I like my friend’s idea of writing them down and being intentional about giving on a daily basis. I am going to go work on my list now.