GIVING IS LIVING.
“Money! A special piece of paper, decorated in sombre colors, which everyone agreed was worth something – and she believed it, everyone believed it – until you took a pile of that paper to a bank, a respectable, traditional, highly confidential Swiss bank and asked: ‘Could I buy back a few hours of my life?’ ‘No madam, we don’t sell, we only buy.’”
—Paulo Coelho, “Eleven Minutes”
“Why do you give?” I was asked recently.
“Because I love.”
But prior to 2006, I didn’t give. At least, not very much, and not very often. Is this because I didn’t love and care for others? I should say not.
I feel like I’ve always had a heart for helping others and for making an impact. Why then would I not put my money where my mouth is? Or, perhaps, where my heart is.
I had an emotional attachment to my dollars that ran deep. To some degree, I still do. We all do. Though as my priorities shift over time, as God refocuses them, this attachment lessens.
When we work, we get compensated. Usually with money. At least, we will get compensated in this fashion until such a time that our economy collapses, our currency is worth nothing and we slide back into an agrarian society / way of doing business. Yowza. Lets hope it doesn’t come to that.
If we’re doing work that we hate, or even don’t like, or even are bored with, or even we loved it at one point but it has become mundane, we will develop a subconscious (or blatantly conscious) attachment to the compensation we received for trading our precious time, time that we can never get back, for $8 an hour.
Now, let’s be honest. Is an hour really worth $8? Is it worth $50? Is it worth $150? In terms of my relatively recently retained attorney, is her hour of legal counsel worth $495?
In the last instance, when needing to trust that she will navigate the international legal waters with negotiating and finalizing my slogan-licensing deal with Nike Europe, I daresay it is. But I digress.
Even at that rate, she doesn’t get to keep all of that for herself as a good portion goes to her Firm as a whole to help keep the doors open and the lights on for business longevity and viability’s sake.
Unless today is your day to cross over to The Great Beyond, we all get the same amount of time in a day.
Time. The Great Equalizer. You have the same amount of time in a day as every other living human. What will you do with it?
When you give of your finances, you’re giving a tangible expression of your intangible time that you gave of once already from your “time bank” for something for which you quite possibly didn’t want to trade your time in the first place. You’re giving of your time when you give your money. Time you will never get back. Time that slips away like grains of sand in the hourglass. Or, like pennies in a multi-trillion dollar multi-generational debt-ridden government budget even.
To attempt to put a tangible, monetary value on something that is completely intangible is altogether impossible. But we still attempt to do so as we like to have – we need to have – things in a place where our human minds can grasp them.
Given that, how much more important is it that we are doing work that we truly believe in and care about - even if the financial compensation is minimal. Yes, I said it.
Given that, how much more meaningful is the giving of someone who hates their job but is still faithful to genuinely give (similar to that of the woman who gave all that she had) as opposed to the rich who gave (give?) a tenth out of their abundance?
I’m also not saying that God won’t leave us in a job or position that we dislike for a while to teach us a lesson. Including giving.
It is our responsibility to find contentment in where God has placed us for a time. Sometimes peace is something that we have to work to maintain and that’s okay. Lets work to keep it, as when we lose it, everything just feels wrong.
Surely there are other reasons for giving aside from love. Ulterior motives. Expecting something in return. The reasons for giving can be as diverse as each of us are. I would suggest though, that sincere giving always boils down to love.
When we give, we break the stranglehold of greed and selfishness on our lives. Which then frees God to entrust us with more. And God’s economy always works in the reverse of that economy that has woven its way throughout or lives and society.
When we give freely, it blesses us in ways we had no concept of prior. In many cases, it blesses the giver more than even the receiver. This is the tragedy of a public assistance program in which the individual receiving the aid is otherwise disconnected from the person from whom money was taken and then filtered through a nameless and faceless government agency.
There is no accountability. In that type of transaction there exists the lie of compassion when in reality the human spirit needs the edification of work and the feeling of accomplishment and of overcoming. The enabling of the destruction of self-esteem through a government program is not compassionate. The cycle of welfare can be broken but its up to us to make it happen through blessing others.
Having income stripped from our hard earned grasp to then be distributed to someone else destroys the blessing of giving freely and truly. Not to mention that after filtering a dollar through the administrative costs of countless accounts, hands, offices, delivery people, government officials, politicians, the value of said dollar has all but been destroyed.
“In giving you are throwing a bridge across the chasm of your solitude.”
—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944); aviator, writer
Receiving from someone whose eyes you haven’t been able to look into or whose hand you haven’t been able to shake in thanksgiving and appreciation and make a human connection thus destroys the interconnection that God has placed the need for inside of every human purposely so that we realize that we cannot make it through this life on our own.
No government agency or entitlement program can replace that.
No politician or political party can replace that.
If you’re not in a place in which your heart identifies with genuinely wanting to give, but God is working in your life and you’ve committed to being attuned to His voice and leading, then I daresay you’re right where you need to be. I’ve been there but have grown through that and I am still growing into a heart of true giving as God shows His faithfulness to me.
People have given to me.
Very recently even.
And I would be NOWHERE without it.