365:32 - Television

When I was 22 years old, I lived with a family of seven. A recent University of Georgia graduate, it was the summer between finishing my college experience and my first year of teaching elementary school.

I shared a bedroom with a baby girl and took the four older brothers to the pool as many days as possible. The parents were two of my best friends and their basement was overtaken by my homeless belongings, waiting for August to come around, when my new apartment was vacant and ready to be the place where I started being an adult.

During that summer, I found a Bible verse that seemed to say exactly what I was living.

Psalm 68:6

“God sets the lonely in families…”

I wasn’t lonely in the “I need more friends in my life” kind of way. I tend to excel at masking any loneliness of that type by filling my life to the brim with events and people and things so that the common observer would assume I was BUSY BUSY BUSY AND HAPPY [whether true or not]. It’s kinda my specialty. But no matter, if you are single and an adult [or possibly about to become one, as I felt that summer] there is a degree of alone-ness. And I have seen over and over in the last eleven years of this alone-ness that God has repeatedly set me in families. Generous families.

But this first one? The first family besides my nuclear family to make me one of their own? It is a generosity I will never forget and try to pay forward as much as I can.

When I moved out that August, this family of seven let me borrow their one and only television because I did not have one.

Can you imagine? Five children in your home and you let the college kid drive away with your only TV.

And for months, I kept that television, mainly just forgetting that I had it and should take it back. [Ahhh, the maturity and self-less thinking of my early 20s.]

I finally returned it, I’m embarrassed to tell you when…okay fine, it was Christmas.

Generosity, the real kind, gives until it is uncomfortable. That family was generous to the point of sacrifice – in basement space, in days, in household appliances, in loving me as one of their own.

And I have never been the same.

I’ve continued to be overly exposed to generosity. And I think I must sit around it every Sunday. During the offering, my pastor always thanks the congregation for “giving to the point that it hurts” and I scan the crowd trying to figure out who is actually doing that. Because they are there. It’s just not me.

Yet.

I want to learn to give like that because I have seen, firsthand, how it changes a person. To be the recipient of undeserved generosity blooms something in your soul that cannot be wilted. And while you may sacrifice when you sow generosity, you will reap as well.

Proverbs 11:25

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

. . . . .

Who do you know that lives generously?

. . . . .

by Annie Downs

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  1. 1

    Annie,
    What wonderful life lessons on generosity. Generosity not only helps those in need, it extremely blesses the one who gives. I have never felt so alive as when I’m giving and I need to let others have the gift of giving to me too. Thanks for sharing!!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. 3

    This is a great reminder for me. I have been taking into people’s homes several times. I was alone, I had no one to turn to and these people have saved my life on different levels. The other day I was thinking to write one family in particular to thank them AGAIN for taking me in and loving me so sacrificially. You just reminded me. And yes, we should pass along what was given to us!

  3. 5

    Thank you for this writing it is a blessing….not sure I really know anyone that selfless (I know it isn’t me) but I do know people who are kind and generous people…….I am facing not knowing where I am going to be living, but I am believing that God will provide for me….I have worked hard all my life and this is hard thing, feeling like I failed, but loosing my home is hard but the alone-ness is worse……..it shows us that no matter what we are going through we can be a blessing to someone else…Thank you..

  4. 7

    My daughter and son-in-love are two of the most generous people I know. When I retired and could not support myself on Social Security, they invited me to live with them and their two teenagers, and built a house, with minimal help from the proceeds of the house I sold, to accommodate their family, me and my two grandsons who could not yet live independently. A few months later my son became disabled, and he moved in as well. They do everything they can to keep my son and I comfortable. Their children and my grandsons now live independently.

  5. 9

    Oh, Annie, I always love your posts so much. They resonate with me very deeply with me each time. SO here I must share that it is my mother who gives and gives selflessly – so much so that it I can’t imagine it doesn’t “hurt” her financially. Sixteen grandchildren who receive something from her EVERY holiday: Valentine’s, Easter, Halloween, Start of School, birthdays, on and on and on. She is a woman of simple means who has ben retired for years and lives on little…yet she multiplies that “little” for the sake of those she loves. I endeavor to be that giving and learn to go without so that others can have. Thanks for your reminder of her generosity in my life.

  6. 11

    Anne, I love this post on generosity, aloneness, and giving. When I was in grade school and junior high we lived in a very small town and my mom brought a young single teacher home for dinner. She spent several years in that time and was like a part of our family. I never thought of her as having been planted there during her alone time, but now I will! She was a blessing, taught me to sew and introduced new dishes that became family favorites. I love it that God provides in such neat ways. I also love the call to give sacrificially. Giving of materials and time and care til it hurts is rare. A challenge I want to rise up to!

  7. 13

    “Paying it forward” is important but even more so is “starting it forward” (even when you have not been a direct recipient. Generosity is a form of expressing thankfulness and sows joy.
    Great reminder, Annie.

  8. 15

    I, too, have always held on to the “God sets the lonely in families” verse because it is SO TRUE. My family of God makes singleness such a blessing—and I only hope to bless them back as much as they bless me :-)

  9. 16

    My sister has given me food several times, as in bags of food, yummy food. She took me from Florida to North Carolina and climbed steps in the stairwell with me. We were exercising my legs to lose weight so i could have a needed surgery. She has been generous to me and invested much more than money.

    Annie, thank you for talking about the aloneness. Singles deal with something different than married. Marriage can be difficult but singles do have their own “I’m missing something.”

    God put me in a precious birth family of one sister and three sweet tbrothers.

  10. 18
    Valerie Hohenberger says:

    There is a lovely, kind and generous woman in our church who always gives sacrificially. She is in her 80′s and is caring for her husband who has dementia and who now has had heart surgery. Her health is precarious too. She has had cancer and still has an ostomy bag and cataracts. She always contributes home cooked goodies and never skimps on the ingredients–always purchasing the good stuff. She stands in front of the stove for hours even though she is in pain. She refuses any sort of help, to the point that we have become concerned about them and their budget! She is fiercely proud and protective of her family. I am proud that she calls me friend!

  11. 20

    I like your writing style, elegance is simplicity brings clarity.

  12. 22

    Thanks for writing and sharing this Annie. We’ve had my daughter’s friend here for a sleepover that started yesterday and extended into this evening and I was blessed by this reminder of how important it can be to bring the hurting in. So thanks. Jesus used your words to bless me.

  13. 24

    Me too. I’m not that person. I want to be. But I’m not. Yet.

  14. 26

    Hiya guys, we give quite a lot probably not enough, it does hurt. We had a guy live in our house who caused a ruined friendship with someone who i have known since primary school. Then a month later he called the police on us, a riot van with 4 police officers arrived at my house. I answered the door with my baby, the issue was sorted out. We have been burgled by teenagers we supported and have had times not knowing where the next penny is coming from. Life is certainly an adventure and God has never let us down. Can I challenge you not to give just to other Christians, but to those outside the church too.

  15. 28
    Beth Williams says:

    Annie,

    Great great post!! Because God has so richly blessed me I tend to want to help others. I love cooking meals for friends or family when illness strikes, or giving away clothes. One year I adopted an elderly person for Christmas, not sure if she was Christian or not. I went and bought her a few nice items to enjoy so she wouldn’t feel left out.

    I would have to say my pastor’s wife is soo very very giving. She teaches youth at our church, is very involved with Relay for Life (Cancer), makes & decorates cakes for bridal/baby showers, is a speaker and is always on the go somewhere for someone. She actually won volunteer of the year for Relay as she puts in many many hours & talks with cancer survivors almost nightly! Aside from all that she is still a pastor’s wife, friend, Bible study leader and wonderful Christian. Always ready to give!

  16. 30
    Sandra Bowen says:

    I have a friend who is the mother of 8 adopted girls. Their family has taught me many lessons in giving even when it would seem there is so little to give. They are the first to arrive at the home of someone who is sick or grieving with food and the offer to help with housekeeping. It is difficult to gift the girls with money without their giving it away! It is so rare to see such wonderful Christian love expressed in today’s world.
    Since I have opened my home to them, maybe someday I can open it to my neighbors.

  17. 32

    Hi Annie!

    Thanks for blessing us with this. I always desire to give-more-than-I-can but I always end up just planning. Praying for growth in this area.

    I am so blessed with a pastor’s wife in our church. I consider her as my spiritual mother. She never tires in preparing snacks for our Bible studies. I am a new leader in the Youth Ministry and we recently had our Garage Sale for our youth camp and there she was, surprising everyone of us with lunch–something I was not able to think. Just over the weekend, she rallied the women in her cell group to help in preparing foods for my engagement party. I am so overwhelmed at how God blesses us through others. :)

  18. 33

    Ha! Annie I started reading this without seeing the author’s name and a paragraph in I thought, “Gee, this sounds just like Annie!” And yup yup! Bless you. …you can have my television. Seriously. Hate the thing!

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