Generosity Can Be a Funny Thing

>I have two adorable jewelry stands loaded with earrings, necklaces, brooches, and the occasional bracelet. I gave one of them away today–jewelry and all. Now I have one, and I can’t stop thinking about the hand-off.

The Back Story. About a month ago I was spending some serious time in prayer and was consulting God about hearing his “voice”. That little pang inside us that stirs our hearts into doing actions that are usually against our regular natures. You know, the little thing inside you that tells you to pick up that hitch-hiker when you are fully aware that he could be armed and dangerous and smells like a corpse. But you do it because something deep inside you tells you it’s the right thing to do. It’s that need inside you that tells you to take a hot and nutritious meal to a neighbor down the street–even though you don’t know her last name and don’t know any other personal facts about her–only to find out that she’s been sick, hasn’t gone to the grocery store in quite a while, and was just rummaging through her cupboards ready to eat peanut butter off a spoon and call it dinner.

So there I was, praying to God about hearing his voice more often, more loudly, and more surely in my life so that I can truly be a tool he uses to meet the needs of those around me. And as I was praying this prayer it was as though God said, “Okay sister, you want to hear my voice? Here’s your chance. You’re about to get what you’re asking for. See your new jewelry stands? I want you to pick one of them and give it to her (the gal whom shall remain nameless). Jewelry too.”

What? Are you kidding me? You want me to give MY jewelry to HER? Can’t I give her something else? What would she want with my stuff anyway? What if she doesn’t like it? How do I know which one she’d like? Blah, Blah, Blah . . . Whine, Whine, Whine . . .

So, it has been sitting on my bedroom table for over a month now, mocking me and reminding me of my prayer and the intent by which I was asking God for his direction in my life. Every time I looked at the butterfly brooches sitting on that stand, all I could think was that they were no longer mine, but hers. And yet, I was missing out.

You see, I wasn’t being disobedient for God didn’t lay out a law that said I had to give my beloved necklaces to her. I could hang on to that jewelry and that stand forever and it wouldn’t matter one iota to her because she never knew I was struggling to be unselfish and generous. It wasn’t as if I had cut a bargain with her and she was waiting on me to own up to my side of the deal. The way I felt it to be was that God was giving me the perfect opportunity to respond in a way that showed myself I was serious. I had been given the chance to partner with Him in changing some things in my life to be more available to him and to bless someone else too.

What was I waiting for?

So yesterday, I cleaned the pieces that I could and made the call. Today, I passed it on. I was feeling good for finally doing what I should have done all those weeks back.

But here’s where generosity gets tricky.

She came to my door today expecting something other than my jewelry stand with my used jewelry on it. How do I know?

Me: “Here’s the thing. I was praying and I felt God wanted me to give this to you.”

Her: “Okay.” She reaches for the stand timidly, with a hesitant grasp and asks for a bag or something to put it in. With a wrinkled nose and wary eyes she asks, “Who’s jewelry IS this?” As if I were handing her a pet lizard in the middle of a molt and she was trying to be excited.

Me: So I start explaining. “This is my jewelry. I have two stands just like this and now one of them belongs to you, jewelry and all. I wear these things, but now maybe you will. But if you don’t like them, give them away, take them to a second-hand store, throw them in the garbage. It doesn’t matter to me because now it’s all yours. All I know is that they’re not supposed to be mine anymore, for whatever reason. Only God knows.”

Her: “Well, I’ll look through it. Some of this is too big me. But thanks.”

We put it in a bag, and she left. That was that. And all I can think about is that look of disgust, like smelling a dirty washrag that’s been sitting in the kitchen sink. My treasures were not really going to be treasured the way I had envisioned.

What was the point, God? I liked all that stuff I gave to her. But I’m not, for one minute sad that I did it. I feel good for finally having made the exchange. But I don’t also want her to think that I just gave her a bunch of junk. She doesn’t know how I deliberately bought each one of those pieces. She doesn’t know of the wedding memories tied to a couple of those necklaces. She doesn’t know the person who gave me those pearl earrings. She doesn’t know the time I spent making one of those pieces and the gals who were with me when I did.

But her knowing all those things doesn’t matter. In this exchange, it wasn’t about her. It was about me. It was about my tendency to argue with God, in my heart, about lessons I need to learn. It was about my need to hold onto things even at the expense of greater opportunities. It was about putting my money where my mouth is. What am I willing to give up in order to know God more intimately?

Generosity is not about the receiver, it’s always about the giver. We can only give to the extent that we are willing to sacrifice and our sacrifice only leads to understanding The greater Good. We can’t truly give if we don’t truly understand. The more we give, the bigger our hearts grow and when it comes right down to it, it’s always about our hearts. God is most interested in the health of our hearts. And He can always do more with a person who has a big heart. Sure generosity blesses the receiver, but it always comes down to the giver.

I’m sure that this lesson of generosity will be nothing in comparison to some things I may be invited to give in the future, but for now, this was what I was asked to give. She might be at home right now saying to her husband, “What was she thinking?” and laughing about how she’ll never wear the big yellow one or the old gold discs. She may think twice about receiving a “gift from me in the future, but knowing her, she will probably be laughing. And that’s good.

Generosity CAN be a funny thing, for sure.

Comments

4 Responses to “Generosity Can Be a Funny Thing”
  1. Jamie Bucher says:

    "This is God, Amanda. I would now like you to give all the rest of your jewelry to your sister, Jamie. And then go through your closet and give her 20 of your most favorite outfits. This needs to be done by next Friday. I have told her to be expecting these, so she is waiting. Thank you for obeying me. I love you, good bye."

  2. Amanda O'Tremba Oster says:

    God, why are you signing in under my sister's name? 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    'cause that's how I roll! -God

  4. Kristin says:

    Hopefully someday she'll appreciate your kindness!

    p.s. Thank you so much for following BonBon Rose Girls. We just got our own .com, so I'll hope you'll follow us there too at: http://www.bonbonrosegirls.com
    We are having giveaways galore this month in celebration of our move. Right now we've a pair of House of Harlow earrings and a Kate Spade ring up for grabs right now! Hugs, K

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