Our empty nests will be much more cozy if the spirits who live in them are of a generous nature. In the post, Out of Balance, I shared how I stumbled upon the book, Women of a Generous Spirit by Lois Mowday Rabey. A series has been born and this is chapter 2. The first chapter was about life giving women. We will search out our true motives in becoming generous women in this one. As in the previous chapter, there are questions to answer, and I will be brutally honest with my answers. It is my hope that this series of exercises will lead me and whoever needs it, to become a more generous woman. What better time to discuss generosity with my friends than during Christmas?
Lois points us in the right direction to become women of a generous spirit with this:
“As I have talked with women, I’ve identified some common counterfeit motivations. If we want to become women of a generous spirit, we need to evaluate our motivations and exchange the counterfeit ones with life-giving ones.”
The counterfeit motivations are listed as follows:
- Giving to be blessed. “Giving in order to be filled. Our giving is self-focused, not God-focused.”
- Giving to please others. When we give to please others, their response to our giving is at the center of our motivation.
- Giving to accomplish our own agendas. “Manipulating circumstances to control the outcome of our giving is the motivation behind this. Often we give little in this situation and lose the desire to be generous women.”
The author gives us 3 examples to demonstrate each of the misguided motivations above.
- Liz was living by a formula. She believed that “living the perfect Christian life” would bring her God’s acceptance, resulting in “the abundant life.” She gave to be blessed.
- Nan volunteered to teach Sunday School in order to receive accolades and recognition from her peers. Disappointment was her reward. She gave to please others, but realized that unmet expectations resulted in emptiness.
- Scarlett O’Hara from the movie, Gone with the Wind, was her third example. We see her throughout the movie manipulating circumstances “to control the outcome of personal encounters.”
The questions that followed this chapter:
1. Which of the women in the chapter resemble you? Explain. (There may be more than one.)
I most relate to Liz. For most of my young adult life, I believed that if I “lived” the Christian life, then I would please God. I can honestly say now, that it was really more of the Christian ideals that I worshipped, instead of Christ who made the word “Christian” possible. I was more of a “religionian”. Once Doris Slappy introduced me to the Life-Giver, my focus turned and I became a new creation. I found it to be true that there is a difference between religion and relationship.
2. Write a paragraph that describes your primary motivation for giving. Your motivation may be one that isn’t listed here.
While I relate most to Liz, I can also say that some of my giving is to please others. I don’t think that is all bad, though. Yes, Lois says that when we give to please others that our motivation is their praise; but there are also times of pure joy just because I’ve made someone happy. Seeing the smile on another’s face because they are pleased with something I’ve done or a gift I’ve given, gives me a great sense of satisfaction. I don’t believe that God frowns on that, especially if He is the One who motivated me to give in the first place.
3. How do you feel when you give and are unappreciated? How do you respond to the person who has been unappreciative?
I gave extravagantly for many years to a friendship that I believed was one that blessed both of us. In one disappointing encounter, I discovered that our friendship was conditional. An incorrect perception ended a long relationship. I have never felt more under appreciated in my life. All the years of friendship, giving, forgiving, laughing, and crying came to a screeching halt. After years of distance, we are talking again, but I remain cautious and protective of my heart. So, I guess the best answer is that I withhold my giving.
4. Think about a time in your life when you felt real gratitude. Write about how that sense of gratitude motivated you. Did you feel energized, eager to give, and eager to express your feelings?
My mother in love, has given me opportunities to feel real gratitude on so many occasions that I can’t name them all. She is a totally selfless woman. On numerous occasions she has taken vacation days from work to sit with my children or has spent the wee hours of the morning holding my children’s heads while they were sick and we were out of town. She would call and ask for them to spend the weekend with her so her son and I could have time to ourselves. We never had to ask, but every time we did, the answer was yes. Right after my son was born, she called one day to find me in tears with post-partum depression. She came that night, took off work the next two-three days and allowed me to sleep the next couple of nights because she knew I needed the rest. I’ve never forgotten it. I even wrote about it in the post, Starting Over with a Newborn.
I know without a doubt what her motivation was. It was to be helpful, pure and simple. And, it didn’t hurt that she got to spend some time with her favorite grandson. Hehehe.
Which of these women do you relate to most? Do you have a special memory of gratitude?
I want to celebrate the season with a generous heart. It is the season of giving.