Willingness To Give

My niece spent the day with me the day before Thanksgiving. We enjoyed many of the blessings of our relationship: we read together, silently and out loud; we had lunch with Uncle Dave when he came home for his lunch break from work (Ramen noodles is always her request); she wrote a poem on my computer to e-mail to our friend; we walked to the library together.

We spent lots of time at the library browsing books. My niece just turned eight years old. The library rules say that children under the age of eight need to be accompanied by an adult at all times. My niece was very excited that she could browse on her own for the first time, so she told me, “You go look at grownup books in your part of the library while I look at my books in my part of the library.” What a wonderful thing it was to be able to share that independence with her for the first time. We both enjoyed our own version of library bliss. She checked out four books. I checked out twelve.

When we got home from the library, it was late in the afternoon, and there would only be about an hour before Grandma would be picking my niece up. We rubbed backs and told stories for the remainder of the time. At one point in between back rubs, my niece decided she wanted to try putting my hair up with my leather hairpiece: a piece of engraved leather with holes to poke a stick through. She tried several times to twist my hair up into a bun. She commented, “I really like this pretty leather hair thing. I would really like to have one. If you had an extra one, or if you don’t want this one, I would like to have it.”

Here’s where I had my dismal failure for the day. I have two of those hairpieces. One is a light brown, and one is a very dark brown, almost black. I could easily spare one. But I thought about how different outfits might look better with one color or the other, and my selfishness set in. Finally after having a ridiculous battle in my head, I told her she could have the light brown one, because I thought the darker one would look better with more of my clothes. Then we forgot to take it out to the car, so I still have both. And now I’m thinking that since my hair is blonde (with some white mixed in) and her hair is dark, that the lighter-colored piece would look better with my hair, and the darker-colored one would look better with hers.

But why should it be such a battle in the first place? How ridiculous! I have two of those hairpieces. She would like one. The best answer would have been an immediate, “Sure, which one would you like?” But instead I was selfish. How eye-opening! I’m glad my eyes have been opened, because I don’t want such selfishness to be a part of my life anymore. Now that I see in such an obvious way that ugly selfishness is there, I can repent and with God’s help, change for the better.

Forgive me, Lord, for being so selfish! Forgive me for caring so much about worldly things. Wash it away and bless my dear niece, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Scriptures

He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Luke 3:11b

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Matthew 22:39b

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Matthew 5:42

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38

Freely ye have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8b

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About Monica Miller

Monica Miller is a wife, homemaker, reader, writer, violinist, and whatever else God has her be at the time.
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5 Responses to Willingness To Give

  1. Kirra Antrobus says:

    One of my professors in college resolved that in order to not get hung up on possessions, if someone sincerely complimented one of his belongings, he would give it to them. I don’t know what he considered the line between a polite compliment and something that needed action, but at one point gave someone his sunglasses. Another time, someone was visiting his home and noticed a full commentary set he had. He didn’t really use them because he favored other commentaries, but I guess it was an older, popular set so he liked to display it. The man complimented the set and my professor got some boxes and boxed up the books for the man. Of course, the man tried to refuse them, but he insisted. It turned out that the man who received the books actually uses them on a regular basis, so it turned out nicely.

    I don’t know if he still does this or if it was a short term experiment, but I was amazed at his resolve to follow through with or to even make a commitment like that. I would have a difficult time with it, though I’m not sure I have much that anyone else would sincerely want. LOL

    • Kirra, thank you for visiting my blog and sharing about your professor. What a beautiful thing for your professor to do! What an awesome example, a terrific way to fight against getting hung up on worldly possessions. It would be good for me to do that, even once! Maybe even once in awhile. Who knows, maybe it would become a regular practice; I suspect it would be quite freeing.

  2. Ann says:

    What a lovely account of a day with a loved child. But as I think about it there seems to be many layers to the dilemma, so that to me it is not a straightforward black-and-white question. On the one hand, generousity and unselfishness are fundamental to being a good Christian; on the other, sometimes those two things are hard to define when viewed over the long term, or through someone else’s eyes. We also have a responsibility, as parents or parental figures, to teach self-denial, consideration for others, and acceptance of delayed rather than instant gratification, in order to set the child on the path both to being good in the eyes of GOD and – also extremely important – to being a happy, productive, emotionally normal member of tuman society. So I am not sure that giving Miigwan the hairpiece was the right decision – particularly if it is special to you. I am not sure I’m right here, I just want to explore this idea a little. As parents or parent substitutes, granting too many requests seems to lead to an attitude of entitlement on the part of the child, and a disregard of what might our feelings or concerns be in the matter. If a child is truly in need – of love, time, financial assistance (as long as it’s not chronically self-inflicted) – then I see it as my joy and duty to address that need. But giving too much can have bad effects – particularly when it turns into a relationship where the parent is primarily focused on serving and appeasing the child, and the child begins to think that not only parents but the world in general is there to serve its wants. Which is a long ways from the lovely child that Miigwan is – But I wouldn’t feel bad at all about saying “no” to her, because the hairpiece was something valuable to me and I used it often. If she decides that it is her heart’s desire, then that’s part of what birthdays and Christmas are for!

    • Ann, welcome to my blog! Thank you for sharing your thoughtful perspective. To look at what is best for the child in the long run is important. I didn’t consider whether there would be any negative effects on her if I said “yes.” I was too blinded by my desire to say “no” and horrified at the selfishness that made me aware of. I appreciate your thoughts and ideas. I hear the wisdom of experience and observation speaking there, and I thank you.

      • Ann says:

        Thank you so much, Monica! I worry that I have a tendency to get on my soapbox about child rearing, possibly from having 10 younger siblings (and 2 older borthers), 3 kids of my own, 34 nieces and nephews, and the experience of coaching high school forensics for five years. But the most important influence by far was my parents, who gave us such a joyous childhood, and who spent so much time reflecting on and discussing the art and responsibilities of child rearing. I think it is WONDERFUL what you are doing for Miigwan, and how much you reflect on it. I can’t think of many more important topics to give our hearts and minds to than how we raise our children!

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