Saturday, January 23, 2010

Generosity Killed the Brat

It's a play off of "curiosity killed the cat," in case you didn't get it. Insert "generosity" where "curiosity" would normally go, and insert "brat" (that would be me) for the cat. Are you following? It took me a long time to think of that title. I just wanted to make sure you were with me.

It's already the fourth weekend of January 2010. Way back when , I said I was going to do a sort of "New Year Challenge" on each of the 5 weekends in January... primarily for the most avid reader of this blog-- that would be me. So, here we are at week #4 and I feel a small recap is in order.
  • We're boycotting hydrogenated corn syrup in the form of liquid beverage, namely SODA or POP. 
  • We're running (yay for all my friends who are braving it out in the winter cold and especially that special someone- you know who you are-- who is now at 6.5 minutes without stopping!).
  • We're going out with (I mean reading) C.S. Lewis.
This week I take you into my own personal confession box. Don't worry, I will leave the door open pretty wide  and won't keep you in here for long ever. I'm not even sure why I am writing about this on the world wide web instead of somewhere a bit safer like, I don't know, a JOURNAL. But, maybe I think this will keep me honest, accountable, or self-conscious, you pick. When I explained to my 3 year old today that God could hear him wherever he is, even the thoughts inside his own curly little head, he looked at me aghast (as though this was the first time he had ever heard it... when we've surely gone over it probably a million times). Maybe I'm having a bit of my son's "are you SURE he knows?" syndrome and am hoping God has me on his blog reader. Is that sacrilegious? I don't really think He has a blog reader. I do seriously need his help though, and here's why...

I am not generous. There, I said it. For all of you whom I have fooled and who think I like to give, give, give (is there anyone who thinks that? hello? helloo?), you were wrong. This is not, however, something I am proud of or am hoping to continue as a lifelong habit until the day I am a crotchety, stingy (but extremely tall) old woman. I want to change. I want to reform. Thus the challenge.

I've been thinking about this for awhile now because I am surrounded, it seems, by generous people. It's a beautiful character quality to behold: a neighbor of mine has it, my parents are generous in most every area of life I can think of, I have friends who are unrelentingly generous with their time, their money, their homes, their possessions. Often it requires sacrifice, a sense of thinking and considering others, a detachment from personal gain and possessions, a longing to bless the people around you.

My husband has this quality. He probably makes me realize my lack of it more than anyone else just by his abundant generosity towards me in a million little ways: Sleep in, go for a run, take the day off, go on a trip... and on and on it goes. Then there's me. The other day my oldest son was complaining about how often he has to clean up his toys and how hard it is, which led me into an illustrious and proverbial lecture on the wisdom of reforming your attitude in spite of your circumstance. The words were still rolling like precious pearls off my tonguge when I realized I was secretly cursing inside for having to put the kids to bed AGAIN and WHY was my husband playing the guitar STILL in the other room. Didn't he SEE and know I was in here slaving away by myself? Like I said, a serious lack of generosity.

Maybe you wouldn't define my problem with that exact term. I'm sure there are many other appropriate descriptions of whatever my problem is that could be added to my list of serious faults. I just don't want to get too depressed, so let me stick with one for now. I agree with you though, they all apply.

The thing with generosity is that it requires a thinking outside of yourself, and most importantly- putting others first. It's not something that comes naturally to me, or to most people, however positive and charitable the makeup of their constitution may be. Popular thinking seems to say these days that the best way to care for others is to care for yourself first. See to your needs, and then you'll be healthy enough to care for the needs of those around you. That sounds good, but it's not True in the way the Word of God explains our situation and our need.

This is where it gets sticky, tricky, and a little bit iffy. If you take what God says about our human nature, and about how we are to treat others, as True-- then you have to consider others above yourself, thinking not only of your own interests but of the interests and needs of those around you. You have to wash everyone else's feet, making yourself the servant. And you have to believe that when you do it in this "reverse," upside-down fashion, that God will bring joy, fulfillment and health to your soul.

Generosity kills the Brat. I'm pretty bratty so I'm thinking the turnover might be a painful one.  My challenge to you this week is two-fold: a) if you run into me, do not try to determine if I've grown more generous and b) more importantly,  think of something (probably something you've already had puttering and muttering around in your head) that you struggle with and humbly give it over... believing in faith that God will give you joy in the process (and he gives quite generously).

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