My family’s Advent giving has continued this season. I’ve enjoyed writing down our acts of giving so that we can return to the list in years to come and reflect on how God let us in on this experience of generosity.
Last Saturday, we used a Krispy Kreme BOGO coupon for two dozen glazed doughnuts. We took one box to a grassy park and played while we enjoyed a few of those treats. My boys crossed paths with 2 other children there, running and playing cops and robbers with them. We shared doughnuts with the little boy and girl we met there. Then we took the other dozen to the fire station in our neighborhood and presented those doughnuts to the firefighters. My friend Lisa who blogs at True and Faithful shared this idea (and the link to the Krispy Kreme coupon) through her Facebook page. The doughnuts turned out to be a blessing to our family (I’m proud to say I ate only a half a doughnut from the entire box), the kids we met at the park, and the firefighters who were gracious enough to show us around the station and their new ladder truck.
On Monday, our gift for the day consisted of a quarter left in the buggy we used at the grocery store. We typically shop at a store called Aldi–a German market where grocery carts are “rented” by sliding a quarter into a slot on the handle in order to release it from the row of buggies. Once the cart (or “carriage,” as a woman once said to me, and I had no idea what she meant) gets returned, the shopper gets the quarter back. But this time, my sons and I decided to leave the quarter in its slot so that somebody else who came along but didn’t have a quarter could benefit from a readily available grocery buggy.
A small gift, to be sure, but sometimes a simple quarter is just what a person needs. On the way out of the parking lot, however, my children saw a woman approach the buggy we’d left, remove the quarter, and leave the buggy behind. Apparently she took the quarter for herself without using the buggy in the store. Not exactly how we’d intended for the gift to be used, and my children felt slightly bothered by this.
But truthfully? So what if she took for herself what we meant to be a help to somebody who needed it? So what if she misused the gift, keeping it for herself instead of using it while she needed it and then leaving it for the next person? Is our gift then squandered?
I say, “no.” We gave that quarter for the right reason, with the right motive, and entrusted it to God–giving it first and foremost to Him. We have no control over how somebody else may use it, and we shouldn’t. Controlling how a person uses a gift that we give might mean we gave it for ourselves instead of for another.
So what if you give a gift and the recipient doesn’t treat it as you had hoped? It’s OK to feel bothered by that or disappointed that the vision you had for the gift didn’t come to fruition. But even so, don’t stop giving.