By Tracee Sioux
I think generosity and gratefulness are two attributes kids should learn early. It is very hard to teach empathy to a 33 year old, but much easier to teach it to 3, 4, and 5 year olds.
In our family we donate 10% of everything we bring in. It’s a sound principle.
Giving away money away instills blessings of faith. Faith that there will be enough money to meet my needs, even if I give a substantial amount of money away.
Giving instills generosity in your spirit – God is so generous with me that I can afford to be generous with others.
Giving instills gratefulness – I have food and clothes and shelter and cars, I am so blessed that I can afford to help those who may not be as blessed as I am.
We have a tradition twice a year at Ainsley’s birthday and at Christmas of going through her things and choosing which ones we will give to “the poor kids.”
Throughout the year I look for real teaching moments. Recently, a family’s home burned down and I took all the baby and kid clothes and dishes I had been saving for a garage sale. I asked Ainsley if she had anything to give a kid who lost all of her things in a fire, and she went to her precious book collection and selected six or seven to give away.
Recently, I’ve begun putting aside a portion of our income to give away to people that God puts in our path. With my kids in tow, I have twice given the cashier at the grocery store money to pay for another person’s groceries. I don’t know why God wants them to have my $22 or $44, I just have faith that God chose them to be behind me in line knowing that they will receive my offering.
Every single time I feel butterflies in my stomach, I get a little nervous and my heart starts to beat a little faster. Mostly because people react suspiciously and want to know my motive. They always ask, Are you sure? As if I may have gone a little crazy and perhaps I might need some help myself. Especially if I’ve just put something from my own grocery cart back because I went a little over budget, then the cashier starts to look for help to deal with the crazy lady who wants to pay for a strangers groceries while she can’t afford her own.
Last week I called about purchasing a used television because mine is on the blink. I hadn’t planned on buying a new TV that day, but I had some time to kill and the want ads in my hands and a cell phone. There was only one listing.
The woman said she had hurt her leg and been out of work and they were going to turn the electricity off so she had to sell the TV quick, she wanted $80 for the TV and said she’d throw in her nearly-new VCR. I told her I’d come look at it.
I’m going to give you this $120 for your light bill. Then you can afford to keep your TV, I told her.
Oh No! You’ve got to at least take the TV, why would you do that? You can’t afford to do that, you’ve got 2 kids to take care of! Why? Why? she screamed, waking the baby.
If I do something kind for you. Then one day, when someone is in need, you will do something kind for them. Then the world is a better place, right? So, I can afford this and we aren’t going to take your only TV.
The sweet woman showed me her light bill as proof that she really needed the money. Said she had a job at a boy’s home starting on Monday but they were going to disconnect her lights before she got paid. Said she had had a house burn down and none of the churches would help her because she didn’t attend and the Red Cross hadn’t helped either.
She started to weep and said, no one has ever done anything this kind for me before. You must be an angel sent by God.
How sad. That this woman, old enough to have grown kids, had never had anyone show her any kindness. It’s about time someone did a random act of kindness for her – don’t you think? I have been blessed many times by strangers, friends and family. In fact, I continue to be so blessed that I very rarely buy my kids’ clothes and they always have way more clothes than they need.
In the car I asked Ainsley what she thought of that whole scene.
Mommy, you should have taken that TV! Now we still don’t have a TV!
We have a small TV that we can watch until we get a big TV. But, don’t you think God will take care of us because we helped that poor woman?
Oh Mommy, God is going to be so happy about you giving her that money and leaving her TV! You are so nice!
Only after this exchange had taken place did it occur to me that perhaps it was not my TV, but my Dish receiver that was malfunctioning. Yesterday, I spent an hour on the phone renegotiating my contract. A technician is coming on Thursday and bringing a free DVR with him and I betcha my TV will work just fine.
Try a random act of kindness this week. Pay your blessings forward. Give a stranger a helping hand: buy someone a tank of gas or some groceries or help them fill a prescription and see how right it feels.
Let your kids see you do it, let them participate, and you will raise generous and grateful children who grow into generous and grateful adults. Then the planet really is a better place to live.