My daughter, Sophia, recently cut off her hair for charity. WAIT. Let me clarify that she did not grow her hair for the charity (to make wigs for those experiencing hair loss through chemo), she grew her hair out of neglect and laziness. Then, when she wanted it cut, found an opportunity to offer the shorn hair to a worthwhile charity. It was no skin off her teeth.
I’ve wondered about that kind of generosity. I’ve been known to donate my spare change to a charity in a plexiglass box on a counter top because it’s easier than throwing it my pocket. I’ve given clothes away because I’m already clearing out my closet. I’ve donated to the food bank because I didn’t like that kind of non-perishable item very much anyway. Does that count?
At one point I would have said no, it doesn’t, that giving has to “hurt” in order for it to make a real difference. There’s a lot to unpack in that sentiment, but suffice it to say, I’ve changed my mind. That kind of giving does count. Except I’ve classified it as something other than generosity, something more along the lines of thoughtfulness or resourcefulness, to have taken the opportunity to avoid wasting the thing(s) you don’t want any more by throwing them in a landfill. (Kudos belongs with the ingenious intermediaries who provide a way to turn waste into beauty or usefulness.)
Thoughtfulness is the first step toward true generosity.
Because I love lists, if I were to articulate a Pilgrim’s Progress of Generosity, I might break it down something like this:
- awareness of, thoughtfulness for the needs around you
- giving away your “waste”, living without waste
- giving away your “extra”, living without extra
- giving a portion of what you have, living with less (inconvenience)
- giving most of what you have, living without
I would even say that to be truly generous, the points would be accumulative, that with each new step, awareness of and thoughtfulness for the one receiving your generosity would be an integral part of your giving experience.
Each step we take is a personal response to the Spirit’s prompting in our lives. It is an outpouring of our thankfulness for all that God has given to us.
There have been moments when I catch a glimpse of true generosity, an authentic selfless act and it gives me great hope on this road that we travel.
Sophia, God bless you for your thoughtfulness.