Most of us are so conditioned to save and always be careful with our money, that we are conflicted (to say the least) when someone starts sticking us in the ribs, talking about “paying it forward.” Doors close. It’s such a private affair. Nobody’s business. Even churches, which exist on the generosity of parishioners, tell them to “go home and pray about” what they should donate.
The sign says PRIVATE, NO ENTRANCE. Personal. None of your business. None of mine.
But then, what do we—who are not Bill Gates—who, like you, have mortgages and car payments, what do we do about the fact that giving is so great? I mean, how do we keep a secret like that from all the people who might really want to get involved in something so amazing as changing the world?
I don’t know about you, but to me it’s pretty impossible. So what DO we do? We stick our toe in the door and whisper “just give a little tiny bit.” “Just give a little bit.” “just give.”
And this is how: To begin a generous life, you may want to start small. Give a little when you feel like it might be a good thing to do. Do it because the kid looks so out of luck. Do it because the smile you get is worth a million. Do it because someone asks for a donation and it seems like a good place to plant a seed.
The thing is, no one wants you to spend the kids’ college fund money. No one wants you to give up the ranch. But some have given up everything and they can teach us a lot. Amy Carmichael left her home and family in Ireland near the end of the 1800s and traveled to India where she opened an orphanage. She worked as a missionary there for 55 years without ever returning home. One of her famous quotes was “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”
By 1913 Carmichael’s orphanage cared for 130 young girls who had been taken as Hindu temple servants. As a temple servant, these girls were forced to financially support the priests by taking “sexual assignments” or what we call prostitution. When the children were asked what it was about the orphanage that saved them, they most often replied "It was love. Amma (Amy) loved us."
Who wants to live without that kind of love? Who doesn’t want to open that door? If you do, you’ll find the most generous, open, accepting people inside. People, like you, that give out of love and compassion, people who understand the value of every human being.
Open those doors. You don’t have to sell the sofa, just do what you can and feel how good it feels. Do it often and let the feeling spread down to your toes and up through your brain. While you’re feeling good, like Amy Carmichael, you might just change the world.
Here’s to Amy,