Posts Tagged ‘generosity

12
May
21

Sharing Sea Bass

Forgive me, blogosphere, for I have sinned.

They make it look so EASY!

Today’s confession: I am not good at sharing. 

Especially when it comes to food.

But don’t take my word for it. Just ask Joan.

Allow me to set the scene: Joan and I are sitting across from one another having a meal at a nice, but not-too-expensive Fort Collins restaurant. We have ordered two different entrees and are both enjoying our selections. At exactly one bite past the halfway point of consuming the Featured Item on my plate, I notice a floating fork in the corner of my field of vision… it is slowly advancing in my direction.

Attached to that floating fork is the right hand of my beloved. 

I look up, warily. There is a smile on her lips and pure charm in her eyes as she bats those lovely eyelashes and demurely asks, “Can I have a bite?”

Whereas most loving spouses would return that smile, lean back in their chair, and say, “Certainly, honey. Go right ahead!” I, instead, balk. In my mind I have calculated the precise number of bites left on my plate and have devised plans for the enjoyment of every one of them. The prospect of losing even one sets my pulse racing.

At war with these basic protective instincts is an aspiration to be seen by my spouse as a “good guy;” read, “One who shares freely of all his possessions.”

So, I end up smiling feebly and muttering a barely audible, “Uh, sure… go ahead… I guess.”

Pretty pathetic, no?

In the first place, it is ridiculous to imagine that giving away ONE SMALL BITE of my food will make the slightest difference in my satiation, my nourishment, or my joy. 

Secondly, what kind of MONSTER chooses to hoard all their gustatorial enjoyment… especially from the one you have covenanted to become “one flesh” with? (Genesis 2:24, and Matthew 19:5, NRSV). 

And thirdly, (but probably not lastly), what does that sort of miserly response on such a MINOR matter say about that person’s general generosity quotient? 

I can sit here and talk all day about the fact that I grew up in a family of five kids where food was scarce and to be guarded with one’s life. But frankly that was a long, long time ago. Those tapes should really not be playing in my 69-year-old head any longer. 

It’s not as if the faith I profess to profess is exactly silent on this topic. Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35, NRSV). The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, listed GENEROSITY as one of his famous “fruits of the spirit”: “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness…” (Galatians 5:22, NRSV). And in making this list, I am sure Paul was probably taking for granted that OF COURSE spouses would demonstrate these “fruits” to one another.

So, what’s my problem, anyway?

It may be that I suffer from the disease of ENTITLEMENT… the sense that the world and those around me OWE ME something.

It may be that I somehow see life as a “zero sum” equation… that is, you gaining something necessarily means me losing something. 

Or it may just mean that I really, REALLY love steamed sea bass. 

Whatever the final verdict, I pray that my character flaw might be instructive to you in your journey.

As it turns out, Jesus was right after all… it really is more blessed to give than to receive.

Abundant blessings;

21
Dec
20

My Christmas of Shame

As the Christmas of my 12th year approached, I wanted a Sting-Ray bike so badly I could taste it.

Everybody has one,” I told my parents, although I’m not sure that was technically true. There were probably one or two 12-year-olds in Bangaladesh who did not have Sting-Ray bicycles.

The bike I did have was functional, but a little clunky. It certainly did NOT have a banana seat or cool, high-rise handlebars, or a sparkly candy apple red paint job. Those deficiencies caused me to be seriously ill-prepared in the “popping wheelies” department. 

Sting-Rays, as I’m sure you are aware, are PERFECT for popping wheelies.

My solution was to beg and beg and whine and moan and complain to my parents, beginning sometime in August. I assured them my life would be ruined if I did not soon possess a Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycle. The shame, I assured them, would redound to them as the parents of The Kid Without a Sting-Ray. 

Of course, it did not enter my childish brain that I was talking about a very major purchase here. We were not what you would call poor, but with five kids and a stay-at-home mother, there was not a lot of room for extravagance at Christmas time. In all likelihood, my heart’s desire might have eaten up 50 percent of the family Christmas present-buying budget.    

Fast forward to Christmas morning. The kids all woke up early – as usual – and ran downstairs to see what Santa had brought us. We impatiently waited as mom and dad took their sweet time coming downstairs, making coffee, and pretending not to know what we were so excited about. 

Stockings were first, by law. Then came the distribution of all of the other wrapped gifts. My eyes kept scanning for a large present in the shape of a Sting-Ray bicycle, to no avail. 

When everything had been passed out, ooo’d and ahhh’d over, squealed with delight for, or grudgingly thanked for (when the gift was a six-pack of new underwear), there was still no Sting-Ray bicycle in sight. Suddenly my dad looked over and said, “Well, I guess that’s it, kids!” and then with a wink my mother chimed in, “Wait a minute, George… what is that I see out there on the front porch?”

“I don’t know,” my father implishly replied. “Why don’t we go out and look!”

We all trooped out to the porch to see what they could possibly be talking about and there – in all its glory – sat a shiny Quasi-Sting-Ray bicycle.

“Oh look, Rusty!” my father proudly proclaimed. “I guess there was one more thing left after all. And I think it is for YOU!”

My father had taken my old bike – the clunky one described above – painted the frame with some metallic, candy-apple red and green paint, and then replaced the original handlebars with high-rise handlebars and the original seat with a Sting-Ray-like banana seat. 

My father had undertaken a labor of love. He had assessed the wants and needs of his five children, weighed them against the available budget, and come up with a creative solution. He spent hours and hours in a secret place in the garage modifying my bike and turning it into the thing I wanted most in the world.

And in return for his love, hard work, and creativity, what did I do? 

I moped. I sulked. I looked down at the ground and tried to hide my deep disappointment.

I think I managed to mumble out a strained, “Thank you,” but my heart wasn’t in it. 

I knew that all of my Sting-Ray owning friends were going to point and laugh at me when I rode my homemade Sting-Ray down the street. It would be just like wearing a placard around my neck that read, “Hi there! We’re poor.” 

I was ashamed of my parents’ gift.

Today though, I am ashamed of me and the way I reacted. 

I look back on that moment with the hard-won knowledge of what it takes to raise a family. I now know that nothing matters more to a parent than lighting up a child’s face with joy. I know parents are hardwired to do whatever it takes to provide for and protect their children and that the only reward any parent ever wants for all of the work and sacrifice is a smile and hearing a heartfelt, “Thank you, dad,” from that child. 

That Christmas I gave my parents none of those gifts. 

Today, as we approach this COVID Christmas, I hope we can look past the PRESENTS and give thanks for the PRESENCE; the presence of love, the presence of family, and the presence of God incarnate, as the real gifts of this season. 

Merry Christmas and abundant blessings;




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