On Sunday we were late to church as usual. Before entering, I opened my wallet to find two twenty-dollar bills. I usually give each of my sons a dollar to put in the offering tray just to get them in the habit of giving. We donate quarterly to the church, so the two dollars on Sundays are more of a superficial gesture than a tithing.
Some Sundays, I only have one single and a five, so one of my sons gets to give five dollars, but $20 is a bit extreme, especially on our tight budget. Since we were late, I knew we could sneak in without giving anything and only a few members sitting next to the door would even notice. I even thought about dropping the $20 in and taking out two fives. But my conscience kept nagging me.
“You blog about abundance all the time, and you’re going to stiff the CHURCH for a measly 20 dollars? Everyday Guru, my ass. What about Everyday tightwad?”
Obviously, I decided to donate the $20, but not without waving it around a bit and making sure someone saw how generous I was.
And wouldn’t you know it, the sermon was on gratitude.
Thinking back, I learned a lot of valuable lessons in that 30 seconds of hesitation. I realize that we have the choice every moment to live in abundance or lack. If we think we are on a tight budget, then we will live tightfisted, pinching every penny. Can you feel all the tension in this lifestyle? On the other hand, if we give freely, we will open the door to abundance and peace of mind.
I also learned that I still haven’t mastered giving. When I donated the 20 dollar bill, I expected to get some recognition in return, or at least some good karma. True giving does not place conditions on the gift.
I will give you love if you promise to never leave me. I will buy you dinner if you buy next time. These are the ways I had given in the past.
In Buddhism there is a term DÃNA. It means to give unconditionally, to give without expecting returns. My new challenge is to practice dãna at all times. I want to give my wife affection without demanding anything in return. I want to give other bloggers likes and comments without hoping that they like or comment back. (Confession: I often get distressed when I make a comment on a blog and I never get a response. I once commented on a Freshly Pressed post and every single comment got a response except for mine. I felt like a pariah.) I want to give compassion to those who are suffering without feeling morally superior.
I am grateful that my wife and I decided to take the boys to church every Sunday because I’m not sure I would have learned these lessons on my own. When we give our time and energy to a higher purpose, God/The Universe/Life showers us with wisdom, patience, and peace of mind that is invaluable…or at least worth more than $20.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling?
Do you give unconditionally? Why or why not? Please share.
- Why Churches Should Encourage Their Members to Give Generously Outside the Church (blackchristiannews.com)