May 26, 2013

The joy of giving




A few months ago after after a work out class, I got talking with a lady who mentioned jubilantly that she was excited to get into shape for her upcoming trip to Hawaii.  As I listened to her talk she said how she no longer goes to the poorer countries in the Caribbean for her vacations as she could not stand to see the poverty in the lives of the locals outside of the resort.

I walked away from the conversation perplexed.  She in essence had told me she did not want to know what the rest of the world was experiencing, she would rather not know and go on living her life in isolation and comfort.

It got me thinking.  I realised that many of us live life that way.   I myself have often struggled over the years with the stirring and tugging in my heart  to do more, give more, make a difference, and I doubt I am the only one.  I think most of us are content to live our lives comfortably, plan for our futures and work hard to give ourselves the ‘stuff’ we long so desperately to have.  We tell ourselves we will give more when we have more, problem is, ‘more’ is never enough.  So we end up working hard spinning our wheels to sustain the lifestyle we have constructed.   In order to ease the guilt of our lives, and to maintain a semblance of goodness, we give sporadically in very small amounts of our time, energy and resources to the poor.  We reason that they lack because they are lazy, or because they have not done enough thus falling into the Superior God complex most middle class have.

Truth is, Gods mission, the mission we as humanity are called to, to see lives transformed is hard.   If it was easy we would all be doing it.  Thats not to say we are all meant to ‘go’ and to ‘do’.  Some of us are meant to support, and to give.  So then why don’t we?

  1. Its inconvenient – True mission does not fit into the 9 – 5.  Its not comfortable and never convenient.  
  2. Fear – True mission and giving fully will make you afraid “what if I’m not liked?”, “what if by giving I lose myself?”, “what if I step out and don’t succeed?”
  3. Its costly – When you become a real giver its costs you.  If you do this it means you can’t do something else.  My 2 weeks volunteering in Sierra Leone this summer means 2 weeks I can’t go elsewhere.  Any monies I give means monies that cannot be used else where.  Selfish?  Yah absolutely.
  4. You can’t control it – One of the biggest reasons people don’t give is they cannot control how their resources will be used.  Oftentimes you feel frustrated that the efforts you’ve invested have not been as fruitful as you’d like, and so you withhold your resources, waiting for causes to prove their worth before coming alongside.  Or worse we invent a counterfeit mission that fits our comfort level where we can control the people we work with the resources we use.
  5. Trust – We don’t trust others and we don’t trust God.  Surely if I was doing the right thing it wouldn’t be this hard would it?  Would it?

So where are you at on your journey of giving?  Are you hiding in your cocoon world like the lady at the gym?  Have you talked yourself out of it with reasonable and well made arguments?  Have you procrastinated like I did waiting for that ‘right time’ and the right moment?  Or have you constructed a form of ‘charity’ that you can control but yet involves the minimal effort and heart?

Wherever you are on that journey its never too late to start.  Whatever cause tugs at your heart its never too little to give. Wherever in the world you are you don’t have to go far to find a need to meet.

I’ve told you all my excuses….  what are yours?


Previous post:

Of death and dying

Next post:

Celebrating International Children's Day