giving cheerfully

In this season of giving, I'm learning that I'm not quite the cheerful giver that I'd like to be. Last month, husband and I went with our friend Kyle to the newly opened Papa John's near us. Since it takes 45 minutes to drive there, husband and I decided to order enough to take home for leftovers the next day. We left the restaurant (yes, it's a restaurant here, and quite nice too) with happy tummies, swinging our take-away bags with visions of leftovers dancing in our heads. 3 little beggar children took that moment to approach us asking for money. Since it's illegal to give money to beggars in this country (because most beggars are bogus) we try to give them food, especially if they're young, which most are. Immediately Kyle gave his leftover pizza without a second thought. Husband followed suit, and I looked woefully at my pizza as I gave it to the children as well. Two held the pizzas as the third one continued following, asking for more food or money. At this point I became upset because I realized these kids didn't really care that we had given them a very hot commodity in our eyes; had it been Regular Joe pizza they also wouldn't have cared. All they wanted was our money. As I mentioned this, they guys said something about cheerful giving and I was immediately convicted.

I've been working on this, and thought I was doing good, until last night. Husband and I had a somewhat stressful day yesterday, and so for date night we treated ourselves to Bennigan's. (again, yes, Bennigan's is actually a treat here) After dinner was over, I was once again walking out with the take-away, and two beggar girls approached us. This time they didn't ask, just reached up and grabbed our food. I think it was an innocent action, something that had happened so much that they knew we would be giving them the food, but my first reaction was resentment at their sense of entitlement. I relinquished the food a bit grumpily, and then that still, small voice reminded me about cheerful giving. I turned around, smiled brightly at them, and said, "Merry Christmas!" I was trying to convey that my compassion for them came from the boss, but a lame Merry Christmas was the only way I knew how to say this in a way they'd understand. And sadly, my first reaction is what they'll remember more anyway.

So I'm learning a lesson here about myself. When it comes to rickshaw drivers and shop owners, I don't have a problem being a bit generous. But apparently American food is where I draw the line. This Christmas season, I hope we're all learning how to give generously, and more importantly, give cheerfully, even when it comes to things (or food :) that mean a lot to us. We did, after all, receive an example of this selflessness during the first Christmas season long ago.


barbara said...

The first thing I thought when I read your post was that you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. I lived there for 2 years and while I started off being very giving I can still remember the kid outside of V-town who scammed me for money by getting me to buy a piece of fruit unknowingly from his father. At first I was so happy I gave him food, then I saw him run up to the fruit man and give the fruit back to him! They took me! I think South Asia can breed cyincism after a while if not on guard. That is the way I felt anyway...awlways being taken advantage of. Anyway, I think we should always be cheerful givers but I think we should also be discerning in our giving. One verse that always rings in my heart is Acts 3:6. I was struggling with giving to the kids on my street, because I wanted to even though I was told by my supervisors it would ruin them and turn them into beggars, and G gave me this verse to make sure that I had the right heart about what I gave to them. Turns out my supervisors were right, I turned the kids on my street into beggars b/c I gave them candy/food. Now they see a white face and the first thing out of their mouths is "sweets/chocolate!" instead of the curiosty I used to see in their eyes. I am still sad to think about it. I gave them silver and gold instead of JC.
Anyway, just want to say I understand what you are going through and I will lift you up about it! Funny the things South Asia brings out in you isn't it?

Emily said...

emily, I just wanted to say that I probably would not have given my papa john's or bennigans...not cheerfully, not at all. that might sound horrible, but I know it wouldn't mean much to them. so don't be too hard on yourself! when we were on our way to c-town for Thanksgiving, we gave some mini-pumpkin pies out the window to some beggars and when they continued asking for money it made me very angry...I can definitely relate to how you felt! I guess it's all about being spirit led and not about giving all the time or only giving certain things...tough stuff for sure!

Andrea said...

We usually bring bags of peanuts with us if we are going to one of those places... if we forget, we usually bring them to a shop with us and buy them some food - then we both leave happy :)