Ethos had a post a while back about a study that concluded giving away money makes you happier than spending it on yourself. It’s sounds easy enough, but I’m sure that most of you are thinking, “Yeah, right. I believe in doing my share, but a new pair of shoes vs. a donation to the local food bank. I’m thinking I would really enjoy that pair of shoes.” I can understand that feeling. I have been there many times in my life too.
I was raised to not be materialistic. At times I have lost sight of this even without realizing it. (Ref my post on Material Girl). Going from being a DINK (dual income, no kids) to being a SAHM (stay at home mom) on 1 income significantly changed my lifestyle. I had to give up multiple vacations, excess shopping trips, facials, massages, Cakebread wine. But I got to be a mom and share my love and life with my twins. Plus, I was able to rediscover my creative side. So, it’s all been worth it!
While I was raised not to be materialistic, the amount of education I received on charitable giving took place twice a year with the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. As an adult I came to realize the extent of opportunities that surround us on a daily basis for conducting charitable giving. However, it wasn’t until participating was no longer an option, based on my husbands demands, did I realize exactly how important it was to me.
My happiness in life is based on my relationships, family, friends and the intrisic value of self accomplishment and self discovery. Part of the discovery process involves being true to myself and not standing in the shadow of anyone else’s ideals or opinions of what I should or shouldn’t do with my money, time and talents.
Choosing to give with a full and eager heart has become a new passion in my life.
It still amazes me that being charitable to others, whether it is monetarily or otherwise, can lift your spirits and give you a sense of freedom like few things in this possession obsession filled world can. Two of the ways I have been involved have touched my heart as I could not imagine.
First, Compassion International. I was introduced to Compassion by this guy. They are one of the nation’s largest Christian child sponsorship organizations, working with more than 1.6 million children worldwide. They are recognized for their financial integrity with top ratings and recommendations by several “watchdog” organizations. The beautiful little girl that I sponsor is named Scovia. She is 6 and lives in a small village by a river. Her mom is 24 and has 3 other children. In her pictures she looks about 4 YO with very ill fitting clothing. She is so very tiny. In her first letter to me she drew a picture with the skills of a 3 YO. Because of my sponsorship she now attends school and receives visits from the Compassion staff to ensure she has adequate care and nutrition, all for $32 a month. But just as important, because of my letters of encouragement and faith, she knows that someone cares about her as a child of God. Little will she ever realize that what she gives me is immeasurable.
Second, Philanthropy. The other charity effort I participate in has an added bonus: I get to shop! Philanthropy is a store in downtown Franklin with a simple concept – Do business successfully that betters the community and the world. Many of the clothing lines they carry are eco-friendly and give back. For instance, Jedidiah created a line of tshirts called The Hope Collection, all designed to benefit certain humanitarian organizations and their causes such as: World Vision, Blood Water Mission, Invisible Children, and several others. My venture began by attending a charity fashion show in March featuring prophetik designs by Franklin’s own, Jeff Garner. What I loved most about this event was the layered options to participate in giving by shopping. 1. The purchase price of the ticket went to The Hands and Feet Project and Aid Sudan. 2. For each garment purchased from the prophetik line, a set donation was also made. 3. 40% of any additional sales from the Philanthropy store that evening was also donated. For me the fashion show was an introduction to what Philanthropy was all about and capable of doing. It is now my first stop on any shopping trip if I have to make a clothing purchase for myself. Why? Well not only are they reasonably priced, especially for downtown Franklin, but I believe in what they are doing. And if I do pay a few dollars more here rather than somewhere else, I’m confident that it is money put to good use to help those that can’t help themselves.
Pulling from a quote that Jeff Garner gave for the show, I think I am able to identify the appropriate words of where I want to be in my life.
My desire is to be truly engaged with self, allowing a heart of giving and serving to lead in my life, expressing true unconditional love as a constant, rather than a condition.
I believe that giving is being of God. It is what he commanded of us, what he expects of us. It is the reason it makes us happy. There are so many options around us to full fill this mission of the heart. I have found my next one, I will be sharing with you soon.
Here is my challenge to you… Take a moment to look around in your community or on the web or at church and think about what you can do to allow a giving heart to lead in your life. You will be happier when you find that opportunity that speaks to you and you just do it.