not more but how

Things always get strange when money comes into it. I don`t know why but it just does.

The idea for this week was to take the money you would spend on yourself and spend it on others. I did that but it was far from a perfect science.

Ultimately I found that I’m still fairly selfish. I’m happy to be generous with others and to give, but when it comes to money I still want for myself.

Here’s what I mean.

There were all kinds of opportunities to be generous and I took a bunch of them. No problem. A couple times I thought, I’m going to get a coffee, then didn’t and spent the money on someone else. Good it worked.

But when I checked my wallet at the end of the week I spent more than I usually do. Great right? More generous than I usually would be.

Well, sort of.

I just spent more. I was generous with other people and gave money away. But in the end I probably only didn’t spend the money on myself twice. 2 coffee’s I didn’t get. In all the other instances I spent the money I wanted to spend on myself and then also made a point of being generous too.

Kind of an odd response, especially considering it was my idea.

I suppose it’s a good first step. I was more generous with the people I my life than I normally would be. But I still felt like I needed to spend money on myself. I couldn’t just for one week leave myself totally out of it and be entirely generous.

I have no idea if it’s good or bad but it’s something for me to think and reflect on. If in the end I only had $10.00 would it go to me or someone else? Or would I try to rationalize why I should split it?

I don’t know.

So we’ll call this week a successful failure. I did it and I was more generous, but I’m not sure I ended up in the space or mindset I was hoping for. I’m going to ponder it some more and hope that I can really start to put others before my need for coffee or whatever else I bought. It’s not about spending more but how I spent what I have.

So many baby steps.

a short do’s and don’t’s

With the good and bad of the internet practical what do we do?

I talked about connecting and begin authentic. Not presenting some kind of crafty self image but rather and honest reflection. What does all of that mean?

Do:

  • Share in others happiness and brokenness
  • Point people to love, grace, hope
  • Like, retweet and message people often
  • Where possible connect face to face
  • Connect with the number of people you can stay connected to in honest and real relationship
  • Be gracious and promote unity
  • Be open to others. Their beliefs, ideas, frustrations.

Don’t:

  • Be self serving
  • Make every post or comment about you
  • Grasp for attention
  • Make your rightness more important than unity, love, and grace
  • Pick fights
  • Be defensive
  • Connect when you don’t really mean it

it just works

I was struck again by how much I like this idea.

There have been loads of times I’ve said “let me know if you need anything” and then I can’t do what the person needs. I’m to busy, not skilled and at times just don’t actually want to. But by making a list I’m forced to consider what I’m honestly prepared to do. It forces me to think about the person, our relationship, what I have to offer.

I like that it doesn’t force the person your trying to support to do one more thing. To worry about if my offer was sincere, which some times it wasn’t. To consider all that needs to be done or all the ways they need support and judge what they feel comfortable asking for. No concerns about asking to much or asking when the offer wasn’t real.

You offer what you can honestly do and the person you’re supporting simple has to pick and choose, no thinking or worrying.

It just works.

 

just shut up

Some times we need to shut up.

We may know what’s best. We may be right. Shut up anyway.

My mother often asks the question “to what end?”

So often the end is my rightness. I need people to know I was right. They need to know how smart, or clever, or whatever I am and my rightness will show them. But it’s really all about me. It’s not for them.

There have been so many times I’ve told someone what to do and how to do it and they refuse to listen. A few weeks later they come back and tell me how they’ve changed or solved their problem and it’s exactly what I said to do. But they needed to find it. They needed to get there on their own.

I needed to shut up. I needed to listen.

As compassionate people we are called to love and there are so many times when love means we hold our tongue.

It’s nothing earth shattering. Listening is often better than talking. But the reminder that even when you have the right answer the answer is still often, shut up.

peace in her hands

Today was not fantastic.

Points of the day were good, but there were some less than ideal portions.

While I was on a rather difficult phone call one of my co-workers quietly appeared in my door. She was holding a coffee. If you’ve been reading here long you understand my deep connection to coffee.

She had heard part of my call and could sense how frustrated I was and how much I was struggling with the call. I didn’t have good answers for the person on the other end and they needed good answers.

It turned my day around.

She just appeared with peace in her hands. “I could tell you needed this.”

Relationships allow for this kind of love. Knowing how I work and who I am and being able to tell right away I was frustrated. But more than just reading the situation, knowing how much a coffee would mean and how much something so simple changes my entire day and then doing something with all that information.

It’s that kind of love we strive for.

Love, in relationships, in action.

don’t get me wrong prayer is important…

Prayer is important.

I worry every I write about prayer that people will get the impression that I don’t see it as important. I do. I value it a great deal. If you’ve been following along here you know that I wrote three prayers (here, here and here) and then reflected on them the following week (here, here and here).

Prayer is important.

But so often we stop there. I’ve written about it before. The temptation to just pray. To see or know someone in need and just pray. We are so much more than that.

That’s why this week’s challenge is for you to think of someone who you have recently said or have been tempted to say “I’ll pray for you” and go the next step. Make sure you pray for them, but also draft a list of the things you’re really and honestly prepared to do to love and support them. Then give it to them.

Most of us truly mean it when we say “let me know if there is anything I can do” but I’ve found this to be more impactful. It shows time, caring and thought. It wasn’t something that just slipped out or was said out of duty.

They’ll know you’re serious and that’s the point.

To be serious about our love and to not just pray for support but answer that prayer with tangible support as well.

a chance easily missed

This space is heavy with things to do.

It’s a lot of ideas and actions to integrate and try in your life.

Your busy, already full life.

Rest isn’t something that’s valued in the West. We value drive. But rest is such a Godly thing.

Don’t miss it.

Don’t miss the need to stop. Don’t miss the need to connect with God. Don’t miss the need to be silent and listen. Don’t miss the chance to let God speak. Don’t miss the chance to just be quiet.

Commit to rest. Don’t let the busyness of life and doing good work push rest out of your life.

And if you’re not the type who has ever rested, today is a great day to start. I know a prayer you could say.

I don’t want to do that

This one ended up being more polarizing than I anticipated.

You could just see it in people’s faces when they heard what it was.

“Oh……that’s a neat idea, within reason.”

What if some knows?

What if someone takes advantage of me?

What if I don’t want to?

What if I can’t afford to?

Yup!

The idea this week is to choose a time block, the morning, 4pm-6pm, every day this week and say yes to every request that comes.

You can see why the within reason statement comes in now.

I’ve listed a bunch of what ifs that can run through your mind. But I think it ultimately boils down to one.

What if God wants me to do something I don’t want to do?

And now you know why I picked this activity.

generous with your generosity

I hope you’re trying to put some of these weekly challenges into your everyday life. They are a terrific way to get your mind and you actions in line with this life of compassion. It just forces you to see the world a little different and that’s a good thing.

This week I’m asking you to be generous once a day.

Originally I wanted to say “be generous one a day to someone who you think doesn’t deserve it” but there were some problems with that.

What if someone you know was generous with you? Does that mean they think you don’t deserve it? How do you know if someone does or doesn’t’ deserve generosity?

It got a little messy.

There was however a reason I started with it worded that way.

Sometimes we hold back our generosity or are generosity is based on merit.

That person is trying so hard we should give them a hand.

Well I’m not going to help someone who isn’t even trying to help themselves.

They have lots, they don’t need me.

That person is so desperate I need to help them.

We test the validity of the request. We want to make sure they are deserving of our help. That they have earned our generosity somehow.

I didn’t want you to do that. I want you to be obedient to God’s call to be generous with all we have.

So once a day when the opportunity is presented we are just generous. It’s not about someone earning it or deserving it, it’s about grace. The chance to be generous is there and we just take it. We don’t hold back our generosity but we are generous with our generosity.

I know it’s strange to ask you to generous with your generosity but it’s true. We can be really strange about our generosity. Who can and can’t get it. Who does and doesn’t’ deserve it.

This week is simple.

Just be generous. No strings, no earning, no deserving, just generosity.

police officers and ATMs

How was your week? Did anything funny happen? Did nothing happen at all? Did God show up? I’d love to hear about it.

I didn’t do very well at my own challenge for this week.

Or maybe I haven’t done super well so far, I’ve still got a few days (this is what we call rationalization).

The people I’ve said hi to have been friendly but nothing special happened. Nothing particularly of interest came out of saying hi. To be honest, that’s going to happen. Every interaction won’t end with an amazing story. Some will but lots are just what they are and in this case that’s you being a friendly engaged member of your community.

What was of interest was the times I didn’t say anything. I guess as I reflect back on the week the times I didn’t speak were the ones that intrigue me the most.

I was walking from my car into a building in down town Galt for a meeting. As I walked I passed a police officer. He did not look particularly interested in saying hi, or smiling, or anything particularly positive. At least that’s what his well worn scowl was telling me.

This might seem like a totally reasonable response to office angry, but it’s really not.

I sit on some committees with the police. Often they folks on the committee are managers. They support and supervise the folks in the community like the fellow I passed.

I know for a fact that the Police want to be engaged in community. They want people to see them as approachable. Knowing this I still didn’t say anything.

It’s basically his job to say hi back. He is obligated to be at the very least pleasant. It was a guaranteed win. I was not going to get yelled at.

But I still didn’t do it.

I was getting some money form an ATM the next day. I turned to walk out and saw a friendly looking lady standing behind me waiting to use the ATM.

I walked right by.

It’s weird to talk around ATMs and money right? People want to be just left alone right?

That’s what I told myself as I walked past without even smiling.

This should be so easy! Just say hi to people. Just connect in the most basic way possible with the people you come across. No going out of your way. It’s not like I’m looking for ways to bear my soul. It’s just a hello.

And I missed it over and over. I missed it when it was easy. I talked myself out of it more than once.

It just goes to show me how much more growing I have to do. It shows me how much I let my actions be dictated by fear more than love and grace. It shows me that this life I keep trying to live takes a lot of effort and choice day after day.

But I get another shot at it tomorrow and the next day and I’m going to be better than I was. Not perfect but better.