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.
“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.
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.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
. . . . .
Who do you know that lives generously?
. . . . .
by Annie Downs