When a tornado touched down in a small town nearby, many families
were left devastated. Afterward, all the local newspapers carried
many human-interest stories featuring some of the families who
suffered the hardest.
One Sunday, a particular picture especially touched me. A young
woman stood in front of a totally demolished mobile home, an
anguished expression twisting her features. A young boy, seven or
eight years old, stood at her side, eyes downcast. Clutching at her
skirt was a tiny girl who stared into the camera, eyes wide with
confusion and fear.
The article that accompanied the picture gave the clothing sizes of
each family member. With growing interest, I noticed that their
sizes closely matched ours. This would be a good opportunity to
teach my children to help those less fortunate than themselves. I
taped the picture of the young family to our refrigerator,
explaining their plight to my seven-year-old twins, Brad and Brett,
and to three- year-old Meghan.
"We have so much, and these poor people now have nothing," I
said. "We'll share what we have with them."
I brought three large boxes down from the attic and placed them on
the living room floor. Meghan watched solemnly, as the boys and I
filled one of the boxes with canned goods and other nonperishable
foods, soap and other assorted toiletries.
While I sorted through our clothes, I encouraged the boys
to go through their toys and donate some of their less
favorite things. Meghan watched quietly as the boys piled
up discarded toys and games.
"I'll help you find something for the little girl when I'm
done with this," I said.
The boys placed the toys they had chosen to donate into
one of the boxes while I filled the third box with clothes.
Meghan walked up with Lucy, her worn, faded, frazzled, much- loved
rag doll hugged tightly to her chest. She paused in front of the box
that held the toys, pressed her round little face into Lucy's flat,
painted-on-face, gave her a final kiss, then laid her gently on top
of the other toys.
"Oh, Honey," I said. "You don't have to give Lucy. You love her so
Meghan nodded solemnly, eyes glistening with held-back
tears. "Lucy makes me happy, Mommy. Maybe she'll make that other
little girl happy, too."
Swallowing hard, I stared at Meghan for a long moment,
wondering how I could teach the boys the lesson she had
just taught me. For I suddenly realized that anyone can
give their cast-offs away. True generosity is giving that
which you cherish most.
Honest benevolence is a three-year-old offering a treasured, albeit
shabby doll to a little girl she doesn't know with the hope that it
will bring this child as much pleasure as it brought her. I, who had
wanted to teach, had been taught.
The boys had watched, open-mouthed, as their baby sister
placed her favorite doll in the box. Without a word, Brad
rose and went to his room. He came back carrying one of his favorite
action figures. He hesitated briefly, clutching the toy, then looked
over at Meghan and placed it in the box next to Lucy.
A slow smile spread across Brett's face, then he jumped up, eyes
twinkling as he ran to retrieve some of his prized
Amazed, I realized that the boys had also recognized what little
Meghan's gesture meant. Swallowing back tears, I pulled all three of
them into my arms.
Taking the cue from my little one, I removed my old tan
jacket with the frayed cuffs from the box of clothes. I
replaced it with the new hunter green jacket that I had
found on sale last week. I hoped the young woman in the
picture would love it as much as I did.
It's easy to give that which we don't want anymore, but
harder to let go of things we cherish; isn't it?
However, the true spirit of giving is to give with your heart.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to
you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to
make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure
you use in giving -- large or small -- it will be used
to measure what is
given back to you." Luke 6:38 NLT
[ Author Unknown -- From Ruthie, via 'Inspired Buffalo' (InspiredBuffalo@lighthouse.net) -- Ed:Anon. ]
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