I have more than enough
Unsorted Used Clothing
It’s Thanksgiving time here in the USA. Last Sunday I heard a sermon about generosity. I always squirm a bit, knowing my family and I have more than most people in the majority world, and many in the minority world.
What’s the majority world? I used to call it the “Third World,” as though it were a separate world. Strange and foreign. Then came “The Developing World,” as though some were developed and others were not, but were trying hard to catch up. Now I call it what it is: the majority world.
For years, D has traveled in the majority world. I’ve shared some of his travel, and have traveled on my own. I’ve learned I can give money until I bleed my bank account dry. Yet it won’t erase the difference between these two worlds.
I’m not saying money isn’t an issue. It is. For many of us who grew up in white and other forms of poverty, money was a key resource for escaping the cycle.
But I’m not there anymore. I’m part of the minority world. I have more than enough.
What will I do with my more than enough? For me, giving money is the easy part. Sort of. One of the difficult parts would be giving myself.
For years I felt caught in a vicious cycle. Ask for volunteers, and my hand was already in the air. Not for everything or anything, but for things I enjoyed doing or knew I could do well. Relatively safe things.
The invitation to be generous is about giving away, letting go of many things. Sometimes money. Sometimes myself, which includes my time, ears, interest, attention and gratitude.
Most difficult for me, however, are the ‘relics’ hidden in my dresser drawers, closets, the attic and on too many book shelves in our house. They can chain me to the past, as though one day I might need to go back there. They’re like a boulder on my back. Every time I turn to look at it, it’s a little larger and heavier.
Last Sunday’s sermon challenged me to be generous. In part, the challenge was about my money and my self. Nonetheless, I also thought about the ‘dead stuff’ sitting in my house. As though it were a museum or storage facility.
I like to think much or even most of it would be useful to someone else. This may, however, be a convenient myth that soothes me, making my own over-buying a little more acceptable.
If I’m serious, I have to do more than deal with my clutter; I must also buy less. Collect less! Lust for less!
Is this possible? Acquisition is addictive. It also gobbles up precious time and money.
An idea popped into my head. I could drop some money in the offering plate as a sign that I’m serious about getting this boulder off my back.
I peek into my wallet. Rats! No loose change. Just one piece of green paper money. I won’t say how much, except that it was more than a dollar. I folded my wallet and returned it to my pocketbook, reluctant to part with my last piece of the green stuff.
Then I got thinking. Maybe I’m reluctant to put that last bill into the offering plate because I’m reluctant about getting rid of my ancient relics and about buying less.
When the offering plate came around, I cleaned out my wallet. My head knows the truth: By spending less, I can give more. Does my heart get it?
What can I offer generously, with no strings attached? Things I already have. Things people gave me, things I made and things I purchased. They blessed me. They kept me warm. They brought beauty into my home. They reminded me of the rest of the world.
More important, I can stop buying and hoarding things I don’t need. I won’t give or throw everything away. Neither, however, will I buy everything that looks attractive to me. I already have more than enough!
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 November 2015
Photo credit: http://www.nashvillegen.com, Unsorted Used Clothing