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Saturday, April 05, 2008

So here we are with 16 or 17 days left of this project, and I'm having a really hard time with the whole concept that giving brings prosperity. I'm thinking that I don't really believe in it at all. What I have come to believe is that giving cannot be done without first receiving, that giving is a by-product of receiving, and that giving in and of itself will not make you rich.

That being said, I can't get over the feeling that something about this concept is eluding me. That there is some deeper truth that I'm not quite getting. I look at my parents and I see that they live that lifestyle. Their monthly support consists of gifts and love offerings from people who believe in them and what they do, from people who love them. And as it is given to them, they give it out. I've seen it over and over again. When they see a need, they immediately reach into their pockets to see what they can give - be it money, time, energy, prayer, or stuff.

And when they have a need - it gets met. So there is a reciprocity at work and I see it working, and I have benefited from it (being on the needy end more often than not). I can remember a trip we were on one summer when I was in High School. Every summer we drove here and there visiting the various churches and families who supported us. This particular trip we were on our way to some little place in Kansas, and our car broke down. We ended up in a flea bag motel, complete with mice and a dried condom under the bed. I still remember the look on my mom's face when she found the condom.

So, it's late at night, we have no money, we're in a crappy little motel room, in the middle of nowhere, and our car is broken. I was horribly annoyed that my parents would be so stupid as to get us into such a mess, and as usual, I was not keeping my mouth shut about it.

My mom turned to my dad, and said "So now what do we do?" And he said, "Well, I guess we'll just have to pray about it." Which they did. Right then and there. And I was rolling my eyes the whole time, wondering how I could have possibly ended up being related to such ridiculous people.

Next morning, guess what happens! My dad gets a call from a supporter in Kansas City, turns out he owns a car dealership and is going to give, yes that's right GIVE, us a brand new car. Not only that, but he's going to deliver it.

I may have shared this story when we were doing our "Praying for Prosperity" project. And I'm sharing it again now because it's also a story about giving and receiving. Don Kahan was in a position of giving, he wasn't broke, he wasn't giving us his personal car, he was the owner of the dealership. He was giving from a place of abundance. My parents were in a place of receiving. And they were comfortable receiving because the car wasn't really for "us," it was for God, so that they could do God's work. And they were in a place of peace about it too. Which I think is important.

So, why did that work for them? And why doesn't it seem to work for me? Or does it work for me, and I'm not noticing because I'm too busy rolling my eyes and being skeptical? What am I doing differently? What am I not doing? What's missing? Is there a fundamental truth that hasn't made itself clear. What do you guys think? What are you giving? What are you receiving? Is it working for you? When you read that story, what do you think?

Talk to me guys.


the gay bookworm said...

Okay I think that most of us unlike your parents do not live in a world/way that stuff flows in and then can flow back out again. Most of us work at jobs that we have various feelings for but do mostly if not totally because WE NEED THE MONEY. We get this money in exchange for services rendered to our employer. Not mysteriously from the universe but for work. If the things I wanted/needed for the life I want to live flowed into my life on a regular basis, such a regular basis that I did not have any anxiety over whether they would be there or not I could give as much as I pleased, as much as I felt compelled to give because I would know more was on its way. But since at this point anyways that has not exactly happened I have to think about giving on those material questions of money and stuff. I do not as I said before that just giving brings prosperity. I think giving is wonderful you can not beat the feeling. But when everything you give is at least seemingly coming from you it can get tough sometimes. This is not expressed completely as well as I'd like but I think you get the picture. Give, Give when you want, to whom you want, what you want but I don't think we are going to become prosperous because of it.

Anonymous said...

Good point.

And I will say that they did "work" at it. Before they could even become missionaries, they had to go from church to church drumming up support. Every month they wrote a news letter that was sent to all of their supporters. I can remember as many as 500 letters being sent out monthly... and I don't know if I'm remembering correctly or not... but it was a lot.

And then there was personal correspondence with everyone who wrote to them personally.

Not to mention all the politics and personalities that had to have been involved in being a part of an organization (The Gospel Missionary Union).

It was kind of like being self employed - under the umbrella of a larger company (GMU) that took care of various details (taxes - insurance - etc) for each entrepeneur.

And really, isn't any job a fundraiser of sorts? Aren't you going to them and saying I want to do this particular thing - and them saying, ok we'll support you in doing that thing.

What's different about that? Seriously. I'm thinking the only difference is that my parents WANTED to be missionaries and I don't WANT to be doing what I'm currently doing. They CHOSE to be missionaries, and I feel like I HAVE to be where I am.

And is that reality? Or is that perception? Couldn't I CHOOSE to do what I WANT and then do FUNDRAISING and get support? Is that possible?

the gay bookworm said...

At no point did I say that they did not have to work. I said they did not have to work at something they did not want to do for some one else. A someone else who said when to be there, what to do and how high to jump. There is a difference.

dawnofarabia said...

So, gaybookworm says that he doesn't think we are going to become prosperous from giving...but doesn't every major religion in our world say that when you give with the right intention, it will be returned to you several fold? I think intention plays an important part. If you give with the intention of getting back, it won't work. If you give from the heart, because you feel compelled to share, to enrich, or to uplift, it is coming from a place of contribution and sincerity. I've seen God reward people in many ways, and sometimes it has nothing to do with financial gain or better clothes. If prosperity includes enriching friendships, gaining knowledge, and happiness, then surely you can see how giving can lead to prosperity in any possible case! If prosperity means making our lives more comfortable with material and physical concerns... then NO... giving doesn't always lead to improvement in those areas. But giving ALWAYS leads to something better.
Speaking of GIVING, Gaybookworm, how long has it been since you GAVE your best friend a call? I sense she may be needing a phone hug!

Anonymous said...

I think Two Feathers is right, there is some obscure and simple truth that is right under our noses but we aren't 'getting it.' i've felt that way for a long time.

I am one of the worst people in the world about receiving gifts. it makes me uncomfortable, and sometimes obligatory. I think when I have been in a situation where I was able to give because it was the right thing to do, it was obviously God/the universe telling me here's your chance to give back some because of all the unexpected goodness that has come to me and my family, and helped to keep our heads above water. Yet, there is still something simple about turning that energy around to create your own prosperity out of your giving. If, in fact, your giving was because it felt right, and you had no second thoughts about it....then i think it opens a door for you to be in a better place to receive from unexpected sources and in unexpected forms.

it's sometimes hard to find the line between being open to receiving and selfishness.

Maybe, just the ripple effect of giving in general keeps the waters from becoming stagnant, and not perpetuating a personality that is all about number one.
I think that giving also puts us in the frame of mind that is associated with a little touch of divinity, and infinite unconditional love.

I find that when I am open to giving someone what they really need at that time without thinking about what will be leftover for myself, then always I seem to be unexpectedly taken care of. It's more than coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Shirley-the few comments I've left here have been a form of giving. I feel more prosperous for having done that (I think I've received way more than I've given.) You're blog(s) add to my life, and I thank you for that. There was a time when money wasn't even used - we lived by barter, community, and generational support. Prosperity is a mind game, no? Receiving is a joy, and a result of my belief about what a gift is. I really love what you put out in the world, and that's why I keep coming back for more! You are wonderful! And your words happen to mean more to me than someone handing me a car....but I already have a nice car! :-) So
I wonder if "perceived prosperity" makes this whole issue easier for me, for your parents, and for anyone who truly believes they "have it"?

Shirley Twofeathers said...

Thanks guys!
I deeply appreciate your input.

For the last few days, I've been "off the grid" trying to get some semblance of order into my home. I thought it might be a good idea to "give my dishes a bath", and "Give my house some TLC", not to mention "give my brain a rest."

I'm going to be double posting for the next couple of days in order to catch up.

I love and appreciate you all! I truly do!

Anonymous said...

It is like good karma. If one gives now, it will come back...maybe not right away but eventually...just the same as bad karma and hate come back to haunt the person throwing it out..

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