I put this randomly on my shake up list because I don’t give regularly to charity. I make donations occasionally to people who canvas at my door or to people I know doing fundraisers. In those cases I usually ‘get’ something for my donation; a tax receipt, a calendar, cookies, etc. I believe that real charity is selfless giving. And, I know I just don’t do that enough.
Today I sealed up cash in an envelope with no return address. I didn’t write any note or instructions. It’s just a plain, simple donation. I know for certain how the money will be used, because I’ve investigated, I know the people that work for the charity and I’ve donated to them before. It is sad that we have to be so jaded about our giving, but it is a fact. You should be sure your money is helping whom/what you are told it’s helping.
Today I asked myself ‘what do you actually believe about giving and how did you come to believe it?” It’s a not as simple as I expected. I was taught early to give money in church. We filled the offering envelopes that were supposedly to help people who didn’t have food or clothes. I enjoyed putting my coins in the envelopes, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t ‘my’ coins. I was not giving out of my allowance! I was taken shopping at Christmas to buy a toy to give to toy drives. I know that this was not very easy for me. I coveted those toys and I picked one hoping that what I got would be better than the one I gave. As an adult I gave dutifully to my church, because I believed it was the right thing to do – the church offered a service to me, to the community, it had expenses. I was partly responsible for that service and those expenses. But underneath that, my inner self was hedging a bet that if I gave money, I would ‘get’ money. I was ‘hearing’ the message that if you give you will receive. I wanted to receive and this was a pretty painless way to do it. I never felt I gave so much it was a sacrifice. I gave out of my abundance.
Now intentions are more important to me than ‘getting’ in return. I feel that giving out of obligation, begrudgingly or in order to ‘get’ in return is not the ‘law’ of giving and receiving that Jesus or any spiritual practice is teaching. Like the ‘law’ of gravity – there is a force that sustains us, the ‘law’ of giving sustains what we create. I now sense that genuine willingness to donate time, money, service to something in order to help make a difference in the world, however big or small, is so much more important than I can know. And, my small giving is more powerful than I can know.
Is it easy for me to give selflessly? Heck no. Honestly, I hesitate every time. Even though I am abundantly blessed, my lizard, “I-don’t-have-enough-for-myself” brain kicks in and I listen to it. I breathe in and out, then give anyway.