February has been a good month for reading. I’m truly settled back in from the holidays in my work and personal life and I seem to be tackling my goals again with renewed energy. Being back in a good place with those I’ve been able to get back to my regular reading.
I Like Giving came to me by way of an early released review copy. I so appreciate a generous spirit in others and am grateful The Lord has blessed me in a way that I can give from time to time myself. I was therefore excited to begin the book and be inspired to be intentional (theme word for the year) in my giving this year.
I was unprepared for the affect the stories within those covers would have on me. I rode a plane from Tampa to Indianapolis last weekend with tears streaming down my face as I read story after story of people’s incredible, life-changing generosity. Formsma opens the book with the story of a woman on welfare who is surprised with a Thanksgiving meal, a day she and her kids otherwise would have gone hungry. Later in that same story, 7 years later, she’s off welfare and working as a nurse when she meets the woman who provided that meal (she’s one of her patients). That meal motivated her to give any way she could even while she was in need and to increase that giving when she was back on her feet. Wow.
What stood out to be about Formsma’s creation of Ilivinggiving.com is that he desired to be generous but he was sick of just responding to everyone’s requests for money. He wanted to give to causes he was passionate about and more than that, he wanted to live his life seeking out opportunities to give in the moment. The website shares those stories but it does not ask for your money. The concept of both the book and the website is for you to give to the causes and people you care about that are already in your life.
I’m twenty-eight. I’m not married. I own a home. I’ve got a lot of expenses and things on my plate. Sometimes I get caught up in that and I don’t feel like I can give. To that Formsma writes, ‘Watch out for these nasty four-letter words: debt, fear, and busy. They steal joy with the greatest of ease. Be aware of them as they compete with the nudge to do for others’.
A few chapters later I underlined this from Michael’s story, ‘I look for ways to live my life as a gift to others however I can’. This followed the statement that he’s not in a place financially to give away a lot of money. He went on to say what he can give is his time and his talent. Hey, I can do that too! In fact, so can you. Everyone brings something to the generosity table and that was a great reminder for me.
Matt’s story (page 169) hit home for me as well when he wrote, ‘It was as if the act of giving had opened me up to realize all the ways I am blessed’. Yes. When I give, when I live generously, I am reminded of how richly the Lord has blessed my life and how much I have. It takes the focus off what I don’t have and reminds to be grateful for what I do. I love that about giving.
So whether you help someone move, buy a homeless person a coffee, donate huge sums of money to worthy causes, or take time to call someone who’s having a bad day – give. Give because it is more blessed to give than to receive. Give so that others will pay it forward out of their gratitude for your actions. Give because you can’t take it with you anyway. Then bask in the joy that giving brings you and make note of the blessing that you feel from it as a result. God loves a cheerful giver.
I highly recommend I Like Giving. It will inspire and challenge you in equal measure. You will nod your head in agreement and you may cry tears of awe and inspiration from the stories you read. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
(please note: this book was given to by by Waterbrook Press a division of Random House but these thoughts and opinions are my own)