Living Growing: It is the joy of giving that will bring our world together

Joy works for the giver and the receiver.

By Gina Halverson

Generosity for me is giving to others that I may have joy.

There are times when I feel I do not have enough to give. I am exhausted, tired or strapped for cash. I have learned through meeting some amazing people, that giving is not for others, but for me. It provides joy for my heart, even if it is a smile, a small gift, an act of kindness. Here is a story of how one person got help during a dark time and found joy in giving because she knew what it felt like to receive. Joy works for the giver and the receiver.

A single mom of four moved into town, leaving an abusive relationship. Getting off the plane, in her new community close to the holidays.

“Life is not supposed to be like this, I was never supposed to be a single mother,” she whispered to herself. She looked down at her beautiful girls and slowly moves the hair out of her youngest girl’s face. Her daughter looks back at her and asks, “Is Santa gonna find us here mom?”

Mom loses her smile a little and says, “of course, Santa delivers here” with doubt in her voice, she sighs and forces a smile and keeps her girls moving to baggage claim. She moves into their tiny apartment which she was able to secure before moving into town. She got a new job, but it pays minimum wage and the hours are sporadic at best. She hears about Christmas help and decided to sign up, feeling humbled and broken.

A week before Christmas she gets a call reminding her the date she can receive her Christmas assistance. She sighed and thanked the lady on the phone for the reminder. She completely forgot about the night she went to fill out the form, one of the lowest moments in her life. She came to the pick-up location on the day she was supposed to come, hoping for a little something to help ease the burden of trying to make a nice Christmas for her girls. When she got there, she was told to step aside and go to a different part of the building. Embarrassed, irritated and now feeling angry for even having to be here she takes a deep breath and does as instruct. She gets to her assigned door and shows her code to the volunteers. The volunteers smile and say, “great, can you open the trunk of your car?” More volunteers come out each carrying armful of food, gifts, wrapping and decorations. Tears pour down her face as she barely gets out the words “thank you.” She could not believe she will now be able to give her girls a Christmas they won’t’ forget. Thank you, was not enough as she could not control the tears falling down her bright red cheeks.

Four years later, she is now established a life in her new community. Her girls are doing well in school and she is part of this amazing community she now calls home. Remembering the 1st Christmas as a single parent, her girls had a turkey dinner and toys that brought smiles to their faces that are now embedded in her memory forever. She grabs an Angel Tree Tag from the bank and starts to walk out of the bank, she looks back and realizes, that was her girls only four short years ago. She can now give back, she can provide a smile that will be embedded into a parent’s memory forever in what could possibly be the hardest Christmas of their life. Tears begin to fall once again, this time, tears of joy, to be able to help, even just little.

Our world today may feel a little broken. Uncertainty is evident as there is a grey cloud over our world, due to COVID19. Things are not as they should be, it’s not supposed to be like this, broken. The grey cloud over you may find you in a tough situation where you do not feel you can give. Don’t let that grey cloud fool you, if you don’t give, your joy will be stripped. It is the joy of giving that will bring our world together and out from under the grey cloud.

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

In our world today, being the sunshining through the grey clouds is not only a blessing for those receiving your generosity, but it is good for your soul and physical health. Giving, whether financial, time or talent when you give you are blessed. Lighten your load of stress by giving. Generosity is not only good for the receiver but for the giver.

• Gina Halverson is a Salvation Army major. ”Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.

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