What Does Giving Freely Really Mean?
I am done with this past week’s goals to Identify the Problem, which I talked about in a large-scale way in my post about why I decided to give up shopping for a year (or “identifying the problem in my closet”!); Give it a Try (and be willing to fail along the way); and Give Freely. I decided to give a few things a try, although maybe not on as large of a scale as I would’ve hoped. I submitted a few essays to Sojourners’ God’s Politics blog, which were not accepted (at least, not yet!), which was still worth trying, especially since I was okay with failing too. Then I decided that I wanted to try to respond to some of the things I was reading and thinking about regarding politics and larger-scale issues, thus my last two posts about the budget crisis and consumer culture. I truly enjoyed doing these posts – it was challenging but felt natural (Like I was writing for school! – Sick, I know…). I’m expecting more of my posts will be like this, because I enjoyed writing them so much.
As I was thinking about my goals though, Give Freely kept coming back to my mind and felt elusively general. What does it mean exactly to just “give freely”? Give what? And to who? To me, it evoked images of handing soup out at a local church or charity, or giving away all my clothes (well, maybe not ALL!). Although I think these forms of giving and community involvement are really important for me to incorporate more into my life, I also realized that there are many other, smaller ways that I need to give. TIME was the first thing I came up with when brainstorming a list of “what I can give to others”. I need to be more willing to give my time freely – without worrying about what I should be doing at home, or stopping by the grocery store for, or missing my favorite show over. This might mean looking for opportunities to give that come up and instead of immediately thinking I’m too busy, maybe I need to give it a second look. Already, going to our church’s community meals on Monday nights has been a great way to spend my time in a different way, building relationships and giving time to be with others. I’m still trying to think of ways that I can give more freely. But I believe that thinking about it has also made me more aware of how others in my life give freely and more likely to take notice of it. There are a few examples of ways that those around me have given freely to me this week:
- My mom brought me to the eye doctor and without hesitation paid for my visit, offered to buy me new glasses, and went with me to pick them out to offer an opinion.
- After a yard sale at my family’s house on Saturday, my parents selflessly divided the money evenly between my siblings and I.
- My husband, Ben, gave freely to me this weekend by walking down the whole length of our apartment to grab me Advil any time I needed it, being incredible flexible with meal plans and changes to schedule, and giving time to just talk even when it’s something we’ve talked about a million times.
- A wonderful friend spontaneously brought over a casserole, fresh bread, and bowl of fruit for me to have for dinner whenever I need it this coming week once she heard that I have an eye infection in both eyes.
There are many more examples like this that I could pull from. Even when writing the list, I am amazed at the small acts of generosity and thoughtfulness around me that make up the “high points” of life. These are the models of giving freely that I would like to emulate. As I look back at the week, I realize that not only is there benefit and importance in giving of oneself, but also to remember the ways in which people have given to us and pause to be thankful for them.
This coming week I will not be continuing to write about my last three goals, since they are more personal and too general to be applied for just a week. But I hope that what will last and “stick” are the in-the-moment reflections on my goals throughout the day and continued forward movement to becoming more of the person I would like to be.