Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Paying It Forward

Tonight I'm trying an interesting experiment on Facebook.  It isn't my idea, actually...I'm one of the ones who thought it would be fun to participate.  What I had to do was be one of five people to sign up on a friend's "wall" and my friend will send me something handmade as long as I then repost on my Facebook "wall" that I'd be willing to send something handmade to the first five on MY wall with the same rules applied.  The time limit?  Sometime in 2011.  I think I can swing that.

So far, there are no takers to something free that was handmade by me.  All they have to do to get a "prize" in the mail is to agree to do likewise and "pay it forward" to five people. 

I'm so feeling like Lisa on "Green Acres" right now.  Poor city girl couldn't cook...and nobody would eat anything she made.  Ironically, I never said that I intended to cook, though.  Not that I'm not able to.  Really!

The requirement stated that it must be "handmade."  If truth be told...when it comes to "handmade"...I'm far better in the realm of paper.  Not as good as my friend, Cindy, who makes the most beautiful cards you can imagine...but fairly decent.  In fact, technically what you are reading right now is "handmade."  But, NO, I'm not planning to send an envelope full of printed blogposts.  What I have planned - assuming that anyone takes the challenge - is pretty good.  I want it to totally rock...well, for something free and "handmade" that is.  After all...nothing rocks your world like something that is better than you expect, yes? 

How many times do we "pay it forward" out of our abundance of items because we don't need it, want it, or want to deal with it?  Most of the time we just call this "giving to Goodwill."  The truth?  What we have in our possession is what we are supposed to be a good steward of in this life.  But instead of getting it moved along to people that actually need it...we put it in storage houses, attics, closets, and in garbage bags in the trunk of our cars.  We won't wait for direction for its disposal and we either store it or throw it out. 

Then we plan our next shopping trip.

But what if we were intentional about our disposal of items and our giving? 

Are we missing out on the joy of giving because we are too busy to stop and think things through?  Apparently, some of my friends are too busy to read my status because nobody wants something free right now.  OR perhaps it is that they don't want to commit to sending out five things of their own. 

I suppose that's possible.

Seriously, though, think about how it would look if you could pay it forward?  What if you had a closet full of clothes that you had "undergrown" or "outgrown" (whatever) and there was another person who had lost or gained weight and needed a new wardrobe?  Wouldn't that be an amazing miracle to receive beautiful clothes at a point in time when you had no money for such a luxury?  Well, for me, this year...I experienced that miracle.  Not once...but twice.  I tried to express my appreciation...but I honestly am grateful for that generosity every day that I go to my closet. 

Every single day.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could just do something nice for someone with no clue as to how it is going to be received?  Or care?  I have two projects in mind right now, and I'm waiting until I'm directed on an amount to send.  I want to mail it when I'm prompted to send it...and in the amount I'm told to send.  I tend to trust God's timing for these kind of things.  I also prefer to do it anonymously. 

One reason that people don't "pay it forward" with regularity is because they have encountered someone who is a really ungracious recipient.  They feel the need to pay you back...or refuse to receive the gift altogether.  Kind of like when you give someone a compliment on their hair ("Oh, it's dirty!") or their clothes ("This old thing?") or something that they accomplished ("It's no big deal.").  You get your compliment back in your hands...and you leave feeling like you should have just kept your mouth shut.

And so the next time you think you might say something to someone who is just starving for kind remember your last experience...and you don't.  And your silence means that what God had planned to do through you remains undone.

How often have we been poked in our spirit to do something and we refused?  We worried about what someone would think of us.  We thought that they would think that we were disingenuous.  We were afraid that following through would require more of us than we wanted to give.  We thought that someone else was better equipped to handle the situation.  We were afraid.  We figured it wouldn't matter one way or the other.  Or a gazillion other excuses.  Sound typical?

I'm currently reading a book that explains that the reason that so many of us are feeling unfulfilled in this life is because we are trying to perform miracles in the lives of other people in our own strength.  We exhaust ourselves and then begin to resent the effort that we expended for naught.  We long to make a make peoples' lives matter.  Most of us get fulfilled in raising our children and don't really notice that something is missing because we are too busy or too exhausted to truly ponder it.  Then when we have time...we don't even know where to begin.

Or maybe it's just me that feels this way...although I seriously doubt it.

So, I'm hoping that someone will respond to my offer.  They may or they may not.  It is possible that they just looked at it and didn't really read what I had written because they've seen it numerous times before.  I'm definitely guilty of that.  The first time...I read it.  Times 2 through infinity...I do not. 

Guess we shall see...I plan to keep posting it until I can pay it forward...or I'll just have to start drawing names.  I don't want to be denied the opportunity to give...and I'm actually pretty excited about doing something nice for someone else.  And it won't even involve regifting...

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