In an attempt to be the best parent ever, I thought I should teach my four-year-old the importance of giving, rather than receiving, around the Holidays. I decided to teach this lesson by taking my son shopping for others. I tried to explain, “Today we won’t be shopping for ourselves. In fact, today is special because we are shopping for some poor families who don’t have toys or things to keep them healthy and warm for winter.” He seemed to understand.
"We get to be like superheroes and save the day!" He said.
"Sure. Something like that. We do get to help others like superheroes do", I responded.
Thinking we were on the same page, I daringly entered into the doors of Target. About halfway through shopping, my son asks with his eyes already welling up with tears, "Mom, where is my present? Where is the stuff for me?"
"I told you buddy, today is not about getting stuff we want. It's about shopping for others who really need our help." I said.
Eventually, his questions turned into loud sobbing screams...
"I DON'T WANT TO HELP THE POOR PEOPLE! I WANT SOMETHING FOR ME! I DON'T WANT TO HELP THE POOR PEOPLE!"
As eyes glared in my direction, my face turned quite red! All I could think was, “What did I do wrong? How could my son be so selfish?”
When I’ve put my own wants before the basic needs of others haven’t I also been saying, “I don’t want to help the poor people!”
As I tried to make a quick getaway, God convicted me in the middle of the Target parking lot. I realized I have the same attitude as my son. How many times have I passed a person in need because helping them seemed inconvenient at the time? When I’ve put my own wants before the basic needs of others haven’t I also been saying, “I don’t want to help the poor people!”
Meanwhile, my son was still bawling in the big red cart. So I took a moment to wrap my arms around him. I whispered in his ear, "It's OK to feel upset. I get frustrated when I don't get things I want too. But I am so glad you are willing to go through this disappointment to help other people today."
Giving is a practice I have had to learn over time.
Giving is harder for some people than others. I am not a natural giver. Giving is a practice I have had to learn over time. Christians aren’t just called to give but to do so with a cheerful heart (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). I think the cheerful part takes time and practice. The more I give the more I realize God is in control. The more I connect with the poor, the less I care about having stuff. My heart is deeply satisfied when I truly care about the things Jesus cares about. Giving to others is participating in bringing God’s plan of redemption to this world. This is a reason to be cheerful!
- What is the last thing you purchased? How happy did it make you?
- In what areas of your life do you need to be more giving?
- How are you currently helping the poor?
- Do you consider yourself a cheerful giver?