Wednesday, May 09, 2012

"Freely you have received, Freely Give"

There’s people who are generous to a virtue and then there’s people who’ve got generosity down to a fault.
To the first group belonged my grandfather, who didn’t charge regular folk for his medical services and then paid for his patients’ medication to boot; my great grandmother who donated a huge parcel of property to build a Church; my sister who gifted me with a Disneyworld vacation package, my husband who's kept his vow to provide for me and our family (and occasionally spoil us), and my parents who gave me, well, everything.   Also, there are cousins, aunts, uncles, friends who just like to buy presents, treat me out for meals or throw their cash on me.  (Do I have “Will accept charity” scribbled on my forehead?  If I do, I’m not ever showering again, thank you very much.)
Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.com
Of the second group, I am the shameless ringleader --with me and myself for company.  Because to be honest, I’m not much of a giver.   Not only is shopping on a budget a chore, but choosing the most practical trinket just spins my head with questions: will parents get into a tizzy that I’ve given their kid a *bleeping* noisemaking gadget, will a chiffon dress end up in the backburner of a picky child’s closet or will her baby brother swallow it’s decorative pearls, doesn’t my husband have this Bama cap already, does my sister have time to read another book, will my cousin's hips appreciate a full Ghirardelli chocolate box and does my friend really need another vanilla scented candle? For goodness sake, why don’t they ever make self-propelling duo strollers for babies and tired mothers as a shower gift? I could use one right about now. Over-analyzing is hard work. Argh! Get me out of here!
 Although. Arguably, I gave my life to God during my Charismatic renewal. But only after I realized my own will brought me nothing but heartache; hence, was tainted by selfish intentions of wanting to be happy.  So all in all, when heaven was dispatching generosity, I held on to my self-interest with both fists curled tightly around myself.   And between the three of us (me, myself and I), it’s become a rather sad existence.
Desperate to be bumped up a better category, I borrow St. Ignatius’ prayer for generosity:  “Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous, teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and ask not for reward, except that of knowing that I do, your most holy will.
Naturally, bold words like that call for bold answers so I brace myself in anticipation.  Will I be asked to renounce my inheritance like St. Francis, suffer stigmata like St. Pio, give up family for convent life like St. Therese of Liseux or go on a mission abroad like Mother Theresa?
Nothing of the sort, to my relief.  All I have to do other than the normal rigors of parenthood… (you know the usual: counting sheep, rosary beads and stretch marks on those sleepless nights; wearing Easter dresses from three seasons ago along with eye bags for accessory; eating chicken nugget leftovers for the bazillionth time while listening to kids singing “It’s a small world after all” on repeat; living with the surprise of sitting on a lego piece hidden in the lumps of my couch; putting up with the stench of ammonia on cloth diapers; scrubbing brown stains off white play clothes and hoping it’s just chocolate or mud stains) is WRITE.
Well.  I can do that. (I mean, anyone can write.)
Not profound prayers of St. Francis, wise sayings of Mother Theresa, letters of spiritual direction like St. Pio, or autobiographies like St. Theresa.   But to simply write without a care for Amazon’s checks, Pulitzer prizes or New York Times bestseller lists.  For love of God and neighbor.   Hey, I know blogging and novel writing can hardly compare to saints’ prose and poetry, but I can give those away, and hope every word brings the reader closer to a God who cannot be outdone in generosity. 
And perhaps inspire you to give just a little bit more of your time, talent and treasure no matter how inadequate you think it is.  Not to me (God's provision has ensured me my fair share of benefactors) but to God by way of the next person God puts in your path.
Freely you have received, freely give,”  Matthew 10:8 exhorts us.  But if that’s not enough encouragement, St. Francis says, “It is in giving that we receive.”

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