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a cheerful giver

13 January 2011

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

A friend of mine thinks we are born with little regard for anyone but ourselves.  “Have you ever watched two babies play together…grabbing things from one another, hitting each other, crying when they don’t get their way?” he asks.  “They were born sinful.”  Perhaps…but only slightly so.  Far more often, I’ve observed babies being compassionate and eager to help without motive or regard for themselves in the slightest.

Babies and young children are much closer to God than you or I, I suspect.  Maybe it’s just that they haven’t been apart from Him for as long but it appears to me that they have a more innocent, altruistic spirit than the rest of us, until the world slowly, but surely, robs them of it.  We cannot shield our children from the world, at least not as much as we’d like.   We can parent with intention though, and be mentally and emotionally present when we’re with them.  And if we’re lucky enough to notice that beautiful, giving spirit within them, it is our duty, as parents, to foster it.  We offer them a better chance to emerge, from childhood, charitable and kind…cheerful givers to the core of who they are.

Which leads me to compulsory giving.  Compulsory giving is the opposite of cheerful giving.  In fact, compulsory giving is not really giving at all.  Some might say that it’s actually taking or maybe even stealing…depending on who is making you “give” and why.  Giving is a choice.  When you have to give, doesn’t the “have” actually negate the “give?”  Some politicians would have you believe otherwise but their efforts to “redistribute wealth” and increase the size of government (not to mention creating even more useless social programs) should, at best, be considered compulsory “giving”…you’re not giving, they’re taking.  What we have left leaves many of us without enough to properly care for our families (creating dependency on the government??), let alone the resources or desire to be charitable and kind to those outside our immediate circle, whether they have legitimate needs or not.  Furthermore, taking the hard-earned money of some and giving it to those without legitimate needs, is unfair and creates resentment, as well as a dependency cycle that is not effective or sustainable in the long run.  It is past time to reign in our out-of-control governments and reclaim our families and teach our children (or learn from them?) about REAL benevolence – giving because we see people in genuine need and we are compelled, beyond reason, to help.  We were designed to be givers and we were commissioned to take care of one another.  That commission does not come from our governments, it comes from our Creator.  The manifestation of that commission begins in our hearts.  If we each begin there, I guarantee that spirit will fill our homes and trickle down into our communities, and our nations.

My three year old daughter is teaching me a lot about being a cheerful giver.  We have a rule in our house that she is only allowed the amount of toys that will fit comfortably in her toy/art cabinet.  To make room for new toys at Christmastime or her birthday, she systematically goes through her cabinet and decides which things to pass on to other kids who may not be as fortunate as she.  I’ve noticed lately, though, that she has taken to passing things on to others, even when she has nothing to gain.  “I have two bunnies, Mom…maybe we should give one to a little girl who doesn’t have a bunny.  I think that will be a great idea, Mom!  She will be so happy to have a bunny!”

[I could learn a lesson here.]

In our house, we know that we are blessed…we don’t have a lot but we have enough.  We’re happy and we’re healthy and we love each other.  Some children do not get to enjoy good health, though, and many have to endure hellish efforts to try to get well.  We’ve been talking to my daughter about children who suffer from cancer and the treatments they have to go through that cause their hair to fall out.  She was genetically blessed with a fast-growing, thick head of hair.  She has seen pictures of bald kids after chemotherapy and I told her about Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that takes hair donations to make wigs for children who have lost their hair due to medical conditions or treatments.  I wanted her to know that she could donate her hair, if she wanted to, and they would use her hair to make a wig for a little girl who didn’t have hair.  It was important to me that she not feel coerced, though…that she wouldn’t give “reluctantly or under compulsion.”  Up to this day, however, I hadn’t asked – point blank – if she wanted to because (here’s the kicker)…I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to give away her beautiful locks and I was afraid of what her answer would be.

Fresh from the bath this afternoon, the timing was perfect, her hair was clean…I asked:

Her answer?  A resounding “Yes!”  Her enthusiasm was contagious.  The picture perfect definition of a cheerful giver.

[I could learn a lesson here.]

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Brie permalink
    14 January 2011 Friday, 12:49 pm

    My heart stopped and then dropped to my stomach for a moment, but it is SO cute.

  2. 15 January 2011 Saturday, 2:48 am

    I was gobbed smacked for a moment ….but how cute does she look it suits her 🙂

  3. 15 January 2011 Saturday, 1:41 pm

    Awww, thanks girls! 😉

  4. Brie permalink
    13 February 2011 Sunday, 3:48 pm

    My niece (pictured) at first went around telling everyone very somberly “I sold my hair to a little girl who was sick and didn’t have any hair yet.” 🙂 After being corrected enough times that she gave her hair to the little girl, not sold it, she now (still somberly) says “I cut my hair off because a sick little girl wanted my braid.” 😀 She makes me laugh all the time.

  5. Brie permalink
    13 February 2011 Sunday, 3:48 pm

    I read this little story in my Woman’s World Circle of Kindness section this morning, and it reminded me of this blog of yours. I thought you would appreciate it:

    “When my husband had a severe sinus infection, I brought him to the ER but couldn’t stay with him because I had to get home to take care of our two young children.
    Later, though, when we all went to pick him up, we noticed a mother who had brought in her own little boy, suffering from a high fever.
    The poor child looked miserable – which my eight-year-old son must have noticed too, because he walked over and gave him one of his favorite toys!
    “I hope you feel better soon,” he said.
    My son had saved up to buy that toy for a long time, but on that day he felt someone else needed it more than he did. “It’s sad when a kid is sick, Mom,” he explained “but I thought he’d enjoy my toy.”
    I cried all the way home realizing what a special thing my son did – and I know that little boy appreciated it too!”

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