Thursday, 13 December 2012

my scrooge-like heart

December 13th: Take a moment to think about giving. To whom do you show generosity? How do you feel about gifting/giving? How do you receive gifts? Do you give without strings attached?

I've been thinking about this lately, and examining my Scrooge-like heart. There are definitely times that I give in order to have some kick-back. A good feeling, a spoken thank you, a note of thanks - some kind of recognition. I want my money or my time or my thoughtfulness to be appreciated, and for that person to show me that they appreciate it. Otherwise, I don't feel like being as generous to that person.

Sometimes there are people in my life who take more energy than what they give back to me. I have to prepare myself to be with them, and I feel a bit drained after being with them. (and don't worry - it's none of you who read this blog!)

So I am challenged to give. To give without expectations, but out of a full heart. To bless others because I've been blessed. And to stop there. Not hope for some kind of validation or appreciation. Because sometimes it's just not going to come. And sometimes I know I don't express appreciation when I should. So I want to make more of a point of sending thank you cards when it occurs to me - not just think "oh, I should send that person a thank you card" and then promptly forget about that idea.

It's made me think of The Christmas Carol. This story seems to speak to the problem of poverty in our world: that it's not a lack of resources, but a lack of generosity. I'm looking to expand my heart - to not keep score, to say thank you more often, and to cut those strings that are sometimes attached in my mind.

But also protect my heart. Sometimes it can be tempting to give until I'm depleted. Then I don't have that full heart anymore. I can only give out of my fullness.

In this season of giving, I want to keep this in the forefront of my mind: I have been blessed, so I will be a blessing. In the words of Tiny Tim:

"But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a giid time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, 'God bless it!'"


  1. Interesting to read your reflections on "times that I give in order to have some kick-back". Part of what makes me smile here is that I know someone who I often perceive that way... and I am being cynical here, but sometimes when I receive their generosity it mostly feels like bait to fetch a complement! (eek!)

    But yes, I see this conundrum in myself too.

    One thing I wanted to offer on the other side of this thought is that I have sometimes thought of being able to watch the seed grow as a good and natural thing. The farmer plants the seed, and even though God does the hard work of making it sprout and grow, there is something good and right when the encouragement of growth is perceived and received as a blessing.

    Another way I have understood this, is that people are only going to invest their scarce or costly resources into things that their perceive as being very meaningful, but if we have no way of ultimately seeing whether our investment has bore fruit, how can we make good investments? And how is it sustainable to be pouring time and money down a drain never knowing what good it might or might not have?

    That said, absolutely we must in many cases offer a gift and send it along its way, never knowing how it specifically might or might not make the world a better place. There is a faith component of giving for sure.

    1. Daniel, I really appreciate your comments here. I love that image of watching the seed grow - that rings true with me. yes - I want to know that my generosity is making a difference. And I totally agree with you about giving + faith too.

      I think about these things when I pass someone on the streets. I have no real policy on what I do. Sometimes I give change, sometime I buy a coffee, sometimes I ignore them. I give coffee or I ignore them because I don't think my money will be spent wisely. But then I get annoyed at myself. And I'm being watched too - especially when I have my daughters along. How could I ignore someone?