But I'm done. I can take time to breath... Before I left school for winter break, the church I go to on Sundays (EGC) was doing a series titled on generosity (link below for the recorded audio sermons). The series spoke on giving- specifically financially and how the money we have is not really ours. It is the Lord's and he allows us to distribute it as we see fit- in essence- He trusts us. I left church almost every Sunday with a big old knot in my stomach. Guys, I'm gonna be raw here- I was giving nothing.
Now, before we move on to talk more about generosity, I have a couple stories for y’all..
Story 1-Ella: age 12- decides to save water by taking a "1-song-shower". She puts her reliant k cd into her CD player (which is plugged into the bathroom wall) and starts the music. By the end of "pink tux to the prom", Ella is out of the shower.
Story 2- Ella: age 15- decides to save money on shampoo by making her own. She mixes apple cider vinegar, baking soda and water. A month later Ella is down to ridiculously dry (also probably smelly) hair and 2 showers a week.
Story 3- Ella: 19- gets off the meal plan at her college and figures out how to spend 10$ a week on groceries... proceeds to live off of beans, quinoa, carrots, and plain oatmeal for the next year.
Story 4- (last one- bear with me) Ella: 20- figures out that her commute to work on Colorado Springs is so hilly that she can save gas $ by putting her car in neutral after the first mile.
Ok you get it- I'm frugal. I've been frugal basically my whole life. (Exceptions apply to coffee and pineapple)... so where am I going with this?
Well, like most college students, I'm in debt. It sucks. When I found out this past spring that I was going to have to take out a loan, I think I tasted puke in my mouth. For someone who speaks out against going out to eat frequently and advocates for doing 99.9% of shopping at thrift stores, the thought that all my efforts have come to me taking out something I can't pay is sickening.
Yes- being frugal is good, it's good for our economy, it allows us to live more simply, I like to think I am healthier because of it. I also think it is Biblical- Jesus did not carry around more than he needed (and often didn’t even have what he “needed”) Despite all this, one thing that being frugal has driven me to become is less generous.
If I am constantly thinking about saving money and how much money I need to pay off, I will never be able to give. I can sometimes justify spending when it comes to myself, but somehow- when it comes to other things, the thought that I can’t give until I am stable myself looms over me… And this is the lie that has taken me so long to recognize.
I have read/ heard the story about the poor widow that Jesus speaks about in the Bible, but (call it what you want)- this “epiphany” that I am the “poor widow” and we all are called to be the “poor widows” struck me recently. Mark 12:41-44:
"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, 'Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.’”
If I am called to give what I have, that includes everything I think I “need”. She gave out of poverty! I am not living in poverty- yet I am still fearful of debt. When I think of what I have as God’s money that he entrusted to me, I have no reason to give a portion of it. Do I trust God to still take care of me if I give? I hope so.
Guys- I was convicted. Then my church did this crazy thing at the very end of the sermon series, at the end of a Sunday service- where they passed the offering baskets back around to us. In the baskets were little envelopes that said “God trusts you” on them. We were told to take one envelope each. Inside was money- in incriments of 10, up to 50$…. yah- I’m not kidding- they were giving US money! And I don’t go to a small church either.
I sat in my car after the church service and prayed. I knew where the money I was given would go and I was feeling all the emotion. That week I got a compassion child (link below for more info). It had been on my heart for months, but like I said, I was in debt, and I didn’t feel that I could do it. But I can. 40$ a month isn’t going to kill me, but it will make a huge impact in the life of my little girl in Haiti.That money is going to mean more to her than it ever will to me.
So here it is: 1) I need to give- regardless of what I think I “need” and 2) God trusts me. Everything on earth is temporary, and the money I have is not my own. If I can give with the little I have now, it sure will be easier someday when I do have more. Me being frugal all those years hasn't been a bad thing, but it has taken me long time to realize that I can be frugal and generous.
...And a question to leave you with.. Are you giving as the “poor widow” did or are you letting your own “needs” deter you from it?
“No one has ever become poor by giving”- Anne Frank