This week I spent about 12 hours knitting an adorable beanie for a little girl I’ve never met and probably never will meet. And in the process I learned a little bit about giving. And a lot about myself.
See, I love to give. I never withhold from friends or family. And in my Konmari/Minimalist journey, Ive donated countless bags of items. I generally tend to donate rather than try to sell, in a way to give back – unless its a really big/expensive item, then I will sell it myself.
In other words, I donate the unwanted.
Granted, these items go to Salvation Army or my favorite thrift store that supports a women’s shelter. And Im quite confident that my donations have brought in a few hundred dollars in sales. I have zero guilt for donating what I have.
But the easy sells? The expensive ones? I keep those. And I sell them and keep the money.
Now you are probably asking “What’s so wrong with that?” Nothing. Nothing at all. I paid for the item originally, I absolutely deserve to keep the money from its sale. But lets not kid ourselves: Giving the leftover scraps hardly makes me a “generous giver”, now does it? Then I realized….
I’ve never bought a NEW blanket for a homeless person.
I’ve never bought a NEW coat for a child in need.
I’ve never even given actual cash to someone I don’t know.
I always give what’s leftover. What I don’t need or want. Items that I cant even gift to someone.
Until this year.
This year I took a name from the Angel Tree at Walmart. I picked a 3yr old little girl who requested blocks, books and 2 outfits.
I bought her 3 outfits, a set of blocks, 2 super cute books and then I hand knitted her this ADORABLE hat. And this hat. Its SO CUTE! I contemplated keeping it for my daughter and giving the other little girl the hat my daughter wears. My daughter’s hat is cute but not as cute as this one. It would be ok, right? This little girl would never know. She would probably still like the older hat. I justified this thought by figuring that she may not even like the hat, or hats in general, and she could even throw it away!
And that’s when I realized it. I only give the leftovers. My family, my friends and myself come first and then whatever is left I can give to someone in need.
This has to stop.
We are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself” – neighbor, of course, being any other human on the planet. Do I love this little girl like I love myself? Do I love her enough to give her a new hat? Possibly the only new hat she’ll ever receive? The hat I actually made with her in mind. Or do I only love her enough to give her the leftovers?
This was my wake up call.
I plan on giving better things from now on. (Of course, I’ll still donate all the leftovers too, no sense in keeping things I dont want/need or throwing them in the trash.) But if I come across someone in need of a coat, I should get them a nice coat. If a homeless person needs a blanket, I should buy them a nice one. If someone truly needs $20, I should give it to them and not just whatever spare change is in my pocket.
Because its not really about what they receive, its about what I give. Am I giving my best? Am I putting others first? Or am I putting myself first?
Notes: I am not advocating going into debt to buy others items. Nor am I suggesting that you put your family in a bind. By all means, pay your bills and feed/cloth your family but consider what you are doing with any extra. Its not amount the amount or quantity you give, its about your heart. If you find yourself unwilling to give better (as I did) then this may be a good exercise for you.
I am also not saying you have to buy a new or expensive item. I rarely buy a new item myself and prefer to buy used or make it myself. A nice coat from Goodwill is something that I would proudly wear. The goal is that if someone is in need of a coat, then I go to Goodwill and purchase them a nice one and give it to them, not purchase myself a nice one and give them my old one.
Also, in the spirit of transparency, I do tithe to my church and we give to a local organization that helps others overcome their past. I also do the Fair Trade Friday box every month and I do my best to spend my money with ethical businesses. I also help out friends and family anytime they need help. This post is about how I feel about helping strangers – the ones we have the hardest time helping.
What are you thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Is this something you have struggled with yourself?