Becoming a Cheerful Giver

For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi

Meditations in Motion

It was a gray, cold, foggy morning when I set out for my run today. I had a short run in mind. I thought I would trudge up the hill near my house for two miles, turn around and fly downhill back to my house.

Uphill has not been my friend since my hip injury. Something about shortening my stride, which occurs naturally on a hill, makes my hip hurt. Today was different, though. Running uphill did not cause any pain. I take that as a good omen, a sign of healing and things to come. Traffic was sparse and my mind was free to wander.

Meditations in Motion

I thought about gift giving in this season of generosity. I love to give gifts. Since I have retired, I have the time and mental energy to make notes of potential gifts for my family all year long. I keep my list hidden away in a secret place, then pull it out in November and begin acquiring the items I have listed.

My grandchildren are the most fun to buy gifts for. I actually have to whittle down my list of gifts for them, or my hubby would object to the amount of money spent. They are still at the ages where you can buy a big pile of presents for a relatively small amount of money. When they get older, it seems like the overall volume of their presents decreases as the cost of procuring them increases.

I always look at my mother as my role-model for generosity. Mom was the most generous person I have ever known.

Meditations in Motion

When my family was young, we would sometimes go out with my parents for a casual dinner. We would usually split the bill or take turns paying for the check, but the bills were often not split evenly and my parents took more than their share of turns paying.

As we got older and our budget was not as tight, Bill and I tried to pay more often. My mom would have none of it. She would grab the check out of our server’s hand “It’s my turn,” she would proclaim. “No, Mom,” we would say. “You paid last time. It’s our turn.” There was no arguing with my mom, however. She was as stubborn as she was generous.

It finally became a game that we played each time we went out, a friendly battle of wills. One time, as we entered the restaurant, I cornered our favorite waitress. “Mary,” I said, “here is my credit card. Do not allow my mom to pay the bill. Use this card. Add a 20% tip for yourself. Don’t even bring the check over to the table.

Too late!” Mary replied. “Your mom already gave me her credit card. And she gave me a 25% tip.” When it came to a battle of wills, I was no match for my mom.

What is it, I wondered, that inspires generosity in us? Why does it feel so good to give something to another person?

Psychologists have determined that, in general, we get more pleasure from giving gifts than receiving them. In fact, in one study reported in Scientific American, subjects were found to be generous even in situations when the test subjects would never again encounter the recipient of their generosity and no one (not even the researchers) could tell whether individual subjects had been generous or not.

Generosity, it turns out, is hardwired deep into our psyches. Not only is giving part of human nature, but the meaning of the gift to the recipient is also factored into the decision to be generous. In other words, thoughtless gifts don’t count.

Being generous makes us feel good about ourselves; it makes us happier, more optimistic, and can even be a predictor of a good marriage.

Meditations in Motion

Gift giving, however, is not always entirely altruistic. There is often a subtle implicit contract when gifts are given. Gift givers frequently want something in return. That “something” could come in the form of increased social standing; the better you give, the better you look. It could come from expected reciprocity; when you give, you also expect to receive. Giving sometimes involves complicated social interactions. Miscalculations can cause embarrassment, frustration, and disappointment.

I think, however, that even though we may unconsciously have selfish expectations when we are generous, it is still much better to practice generosity than to be miserly. Generosity forces us to be empathetic. Givers put themselves in the place of the receiver and vicariously experience the pleasure of receiving. It’s a natural depression-fighter that improves your sense of purpose and enhances relationships.

Meditations in Motion

Being generous is something that we are called to do by a magnanimous God. The abundance of wholly gratuitous beauty in the world is a sign of God’s benevolence. Our generosity is a reflection of His.

He makes an additional request, in regards to generosity, however. He asks us to be cheerful in our giving, not grudging. He appeals to us to give freely, joyfully, lovingly.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.2 Corinthians 9: 6 – 7.

Yes, it is my hope that I can always be a cheerful giver. Just like my mom.

I am linking up with Clean Eats Fast Feets for her Week in Review, Shank You Very Much for Dream Team and Global Blogging, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Mary-andering Creatively for LMM, Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Purposeful Faith for RaRa link up, Abounding Grace for Gracefull Tuesday, Char at Trekking Thru, Meghan Weyerbacher for Tea and Word, Shelbee on the Edge for Spread the Kindness, Mary Geisen Tell His Story, Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart, Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies, Amelia Gilliand for Words That Inspire, Kristin Hill Taylor for Porch Stories, Lori Schumaker for Moments of Hope, and Bethere2day for Wordless Wednesday on a Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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75 comments

  1. I love your post, Laurie. Generosity comes from a kind heart, and both you and your mom have this awesome quality a thousandfold. And I agree it is also a reflection of God’s benevolence. It is a special, warm feeling to be able to give that special something, either to family, friends, or strangers in need, without expecting anything in return.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Laurie- What a great reminder of the gift we get when we give freely and lovingly. A few years ago I gave up giving gift cards. It just felt like I wasn’t putting and thought into how much I cared for the person. I was busy and got in this rut. I truly love spending time thinking about each person and what they mean to me as I shop for gifts. Also I’ve come to realize what I really want for a gift is time with that person. That’s the most previous gift.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. LOL about fighting with your mom for the bill. I was discussing gift giving with my daughter recently and told her about how my mom used to buy extra gifts (small things like handkerchiefs or a box of candy) and wrap them and put them under the tree for the occasional unexpected guest who came over. She thought that was such a special thing to do.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a thoughtful post on generosity! We, too, have done the dance with my parents on playing for meals. They are on a tight budget, however, having lived far longer than they ever thought they would (90 & 92). So it’s easier to win these days.

    My Dad was/is always extremely generous, feeling it an obligation to give back. It’s actually become a problem, as he feels he needs to donate to everyone who asks, and everyone asks these days.

    Interestingly, my MIL is not always the most charitable woman, and yet my husband is also very good at giving to those in need & enjoys it.

    Family dynamics . . . generosity . . . fascinating subjects!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Love your post. I like to give funny gifts that have a deeper meaning. I wrote my last post about the back scratcher I am giving each of my family for Christmas, they cost me a dollar but they all want to borrow mine when they are with me. I know they will get a kick out of them and everytime they use them they will think of me. My husband is the generous giver and when he tells me God laid it on his heart to give such and such I know it if from the Lord. Perfect post for this time of the year when we all are thinking of giving.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Such beautiful thoughts on gift giving! My parents have always been generous too. In fact, they set the bar so high that I get nervous with gift giving. I never feel like I’ve gotten the right gift. I’m still shopping…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Love the memories you have shared about your mom. We still “fight” with my parents like this over restaurant tabs 🙂 This was such a good post to read this week leading up to Christmas. Surely, we have the greatest example in our Father, who gave the most costly gift to us. May we be more like Him each and every day and have hearts brimming with generosity and gratitude. Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Lovely post – you have your mom’s spunk! I gave up the struggle to pay when I realized it was her way to give to us. Now that my dad is on a fixed income, I know that he’ll offer to pay, but he’s very relieved to let us pick up the tab and we’re all the happier for it. Enjoy the laughter and excitement of the grandkids!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What a wonderful role model you have in your mom! Sounds like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. My MIL always has ulterior motives when she gives. She definitely expects something in return. It’s tough sometimes but the psychology of it fascinates me.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I think there are many ways you can be generous and it seems like the only way to be. I’m happy for you and your hip, healing from that sort of injury can be very difficult. St. Francis of Assisi was always our favorite saint in school, because of his way with animals I think. It’s so true about the piles of toys getting smaller but the price getting higher as they get older. However, I stumbled across a great series of fairly inexpensive PEZ gift sets I get for my nephew every year. He’s been getting them well into his 30s.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. What a nice memory you have of your parents and each wanting to treat the others … and mothers are so headstrong in positive ways sometimes …it is good to remember those memories, especially now as we near the holidays and I know you lost your mom close to Christmas time. And I thought of your mother-in-law, with her collection of frogs when I saw these little frogs and a bouquet of flowers about to be enjoyed, especially in this season of giving.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Laurie, this was a beautiful reminder for me today. I always connect with your writing because I’m a runner too, and my weekend 10-milers are my best thinking space all week. I’ve been terribly missing my runs all fall, as I’m 4 months pregnant and have been terribly ill and basically on bedrest. In the midst of feeling sorry for all I’ve had to lay down so that this new life might come into the world, the reminder that it is most blessed to give to others is exactly what I needed today. Thank you, my running friend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Stacey. I didn’t know you are a runner! Congratulations on the pregnancy! So sorry to hear that you haven’t been feeling well. That must be so tough with little ones in the house. Resting during your pregnancy for the benefit of your unborn baby is the ultimate example of generosity. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

      Like

  13. I “fight” my mom for the bill, too. I think she enjoys paying as it’s her way to show that she’s still taking care of me. I think generosity is so much more that gift giving. It’s making time for phone calls and helping out even when it’s inconvenient for you. And doing so with joy, just like you said.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I agree with the study that we are wired to give. I have always loved giving more than receiving. I am an Enneagram 2 which tis the Helper so if you know anything about this is makes perfect sense. Your mom sounds like an amazing woman. Blessings and Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am going to have to revisit my Enneagram. I think I am mostly 1 and some 3. I think type 1 likes to make the world a better place, which is me (on a good day)! Merry Christmas blessings to you, too, Mary!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Timely post Laurie! 🙂

    I think it is important to remember, and particularly so a this time of year, that the very best gift we can ever give is the one that does not cost a cent!

    Giving in and of the Spirit to all is what God requires of us – to give freely what we have received of Him. We are never to be stingy or selfish where such giving is concerned.

    Understanding how best to give such a valuable gift to those who only see gift value in monetary terms can be problematic, of course! 😉

    Being generous of Spirit can also mean knowing when to let others have their time to be generous also.

    It’s ok to receive sometimes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Love this. I was just talking to somebody this morning about how nice it is to give something to somebody and see a genuine look of appreciation on their face. I guess thats not altogether altruistic but I’ll take that over getting something myself any time #dreamteam

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I love giving gifts to those around me, picking out the perfect something is my favorite. This year we had to economize with our gift budget since we spent so much money vacationing to visit family, but I still found wonderful gifts that I knew the recipients would love. You’re right that the money is not what matters, it’s the joy it brings. And great news that your hip is hurting less! #DreamTeam

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Laurie, I love this post! I completely agree about generosity and God loving a joyful giver. I’m a Forgiveness Coach and do Ideal Scenes periodically for my next steps — at the center of each one, I put generosity of Spirit.

    Thank you for following my blog. This is truly a great post, and you’re welcome to contribute to Forgiving Fridays at some point (if you want to). Have a beautiful rest of your week!

    Blessings,
    Debbie

    ps – I love how generous your mom was. Mine was too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your very kind comments. I will put “forgiveness” on my list of topics I want to write about so that I can contribute to Forgiving Fridays. I read some of the blog posts and think they are wonderful. You are providing a much-needed space for positive emotions to flow. Blessings to you too, Debbie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Great, Laurie. And, you have a lot of creativity on the topic. Some people do poetry, others contribute artwork, and others share what they forgive (or are struggling to forgive). And more. 🙂

        Blessings to you, Laurie!

        Liked by 1 person

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