Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday. Although this is not the winter solstice marking the longest night of the year, it is often considered the longest day of the year for nonprofit organizations. It has become a day for people who have worked hard throughout the year, to share as best and as efficiently as possible the calling and commitment to mending some part of our world’s broken pieces and to see if anyone was listening. Who found a resonance with the kind of healing taking place, and who might come alongside to support the work being done?
So yes, there is a great deal of nervous pacing, website refreshing, last minute appealing to attempt to manage what is mostly out of our control. It is a long day.
#GivingTuesday has been a clever promotional idea attempting to refocus western consumerism back toward causes and missions with more generational impact than, say, the latest AirPods or gaming systems. A mentor of mine would often say that organizations – like Blood:Water – have a secondary and equal mission of rescuing people from their trivia.
Trivia is so easy. Especially when it can be difficult to know where to apply pressure to stop the hemorrhaging of life in our world. Our “info-glut” culture of headlines and social media truncation leave us paralyzed or conditioned to see and forget as our minds filter the inflow of messages so we can keep our sanity. And even though there always appears to be more darkness than light, we celebrate that it takes so much less light to overcome vast amounts of darkness.
Perhaps there is more to #GivingTuesday than being the dutiful second cousin to Cyber Monday. While the post-Thanksgiving daily consumer-bolstering themes keep us in a headspace of responding transactionally to messages that show us all the things we don’t have and should have, this one day speaks a different message about how we respond to the truer perspective that we have everything we could ever need.
#GivingTuesday asks us to consider, from a cup perpetually overflowing, are we open to the deep, deep compulsion to be the conduit of provision for others in the world? Do we have the mindfulness capable of seeing ourselves as we are, enveloped in the abundance of all things? Do we have it in our hearts to navigate the depths of our wealthy and resource-full place as if we fully believe that God will continue to over-deliver on each of our needs and provide all things for us? The very fact that this significant “holiday” falls on a Tuesday – a day more commonly celebrated for tacos or gluttonous overeating, that God would redeem it for the purposes of rescuing us from ourselves.
#GivingTuesday is an opportunity for each of us to exercise our generous hearts and be the hands and feet, the eyes and the incarnation of Jesus’ benevolent, sincere care for this beautiful and broken world and all the people living underneath its clouds.
When we give, we declare that God is near to us. We declare that we have been loved. We declare that our very being is a gift and all else surrounding us is not ours, but God’s that we might steward all things well.
Many of us hold a great fear of not having enough. This is connected to the fear that, upon an honest personal inventory, others will be as withholding of resources as we have traditionally been. When we let go of that fear we find ourselves in a position to ask and receive from others. This vulnerability is the pathway to deep and intimate relationships. It is nice to be needed. The obstacles keeping us from connecting with others and building relationships are most often created by our accumulation of resources that falsely prop us up as if we can be in control of our lives. We came to believe that, with the right amount of wealth, we could be the gate-keepers of suffering and health. We lost our bridge of community and joy in the fire of self-inflicted isolation. Yet, there is still a line stretching across the divide. It is called generosity.
It stands to reason that the antidote of self-pity and self-loathing is to partake of service to others. If you have ever gotten trapped in your own mind, the way out was through service. It was through thinking less about ourselves except to recognize that we had something to bring to the table for someone else.
Thinking only leads to more thinking… Action leads to growth. When we find ourselves trapped by our own trivia or held within the spires of our own making, generosity is the way out. And sometimes it takes a LOT of generosity to reach the soft underbelly that we need to let others see.
I know that many of us have grown up with the understanding that our acts of generosity, our donations to causes and campaigns, are ways for us to help others who need what we have. We see this sort of thing as another solicitation rather than an invitation.
This year, that paradigm can shift. Giving is more for the giver than for the beneficiary. Giving will change you more than it will change others. That is another paradox of the Kingdom of God. If you find yourself with abundance, perhaps you can see that God is not asking you to accumulate and store that abundance out of fear that He will not continue to give you more than you need. Would God give a gift meant to provoke distrust of Him? Perhaps the provision of wealth is not the whole gift. Perhaps the real gift is seeing what happens when you let go of it all… What freedom! What joy!
I can’t wait to see what happens!