The draw of comfort: either be comfortable and die or get dirty and live

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Comfort is the nemesis of adventure. Life should be lived with your toes hanging over the edge— otherwise it’s just dying in a slow, boring way.

Toes over the edge

Remember toddlers? They ONLY have a sense of adventure. They don’t want to sit and they don’t want to wait and they don’t want to bother with silly social norms like spoons for applesauce.

But it changes by adulthood, doesn’t it? I have recently seen the alarming truth that by middle school comfort over adventure is already deeply ingrained. You see, we went on a field trip.

They took 5th graders to a farm and I was a chaperone. We got to see a whole ecosystem of life. There were cows and horses, ducks and sheep, fields and a fire pit. Now, I’m no stranger to the farm scene so maybe that’s why I smiled deep down into my soul when I stepped off the bus. There’s new life and provision and loving care and nature and bounty on a farm. I know it to be a magical place that we should all revere at least a little. Hey, if there were no farms there would be no McDonald’s. (Although some may debate that McDonald’s is almost purely chemical at this point. You get my gist anyway.)

horses on a farm

I was not a little horrified when I turned my contented face around to look at the kids throughout the trip. Some had their faces screwed up in disgust and covered their faces with their shirts or hands. Several had personal bags they carried with them full of a variety of snacks, electronics, hand sanitizer, and beauty products. Some complained about the amount of walking. At each new animal stall inevitably the same scenario played out again and again. Someone would be standing near the fence and something would happen (i.e. the animal would turn over, the wind would shift or something similarly benign) and someone would scream, “Ewww!” and would pull away in disgust. It even happened with the bunnies. A kid really screamed “Ewww” because of a bunny.

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This handsome kid jumped in and offered his thumb for the newborn calf, just days old, to suck on. Yes, it was slimy and gross. Yes, it was worth the experience. Yes, it was my kid.

These kids who missed the adventure because of the lack of comfort were not mine. But they are the future that my children will run the world with. Now it’s my turn to say “Ewww.” These kids all go to a good school that displays Christian values. I’ve known most of them for many years and they are really good kids. How could so many have turned to the blinding nature of comfort so easily and early?

 

 


I recently talked to a mom about the upcoming summer vacation. She told me that her daughter is expecting to spend the entire summer plugged in to some device and the mother was grieved because she knows it’s not good for a kid. I told her that we plan on spending several weeks and most every weekend at our cabin which has no service for TV, internet, or phone. When we’re there we are 100% unreachable unless we go into the library in town. There was a flicker of longing in this mom’s eye. She saw the adventure. She saw the pure unadulterated life that could be lived at such a place where you stay entertained with pitcher plants and frogs, mud and leaves, hammocks in the sunshine and a gentle breeze.

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We cooked up some foraged food last time we visited that magical place. Spring is great for treats growing in the woods.

“That would be great.” She said with almost a whisper. It seemed too impossible to ever hope for. We saw her daughter and the mom told her, “You should hear what they have planned for this summer.” I told her and her immediate response was:

“That sounds like the most horrible place ever!”

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Are you familiar with Fruit Ninja? Well, the kids used a hand-carved sword and some watermelon rind to make the live game. Very ninja-esk moves going on.

 

 

 

 


My own kids are not immune to the comfort creep. My own middle-schooler is starting to push back against our biking to school. “It’s too cold.” “I’m too tired.” “It takes too long.”

It is true that driving provides great climate control, minimal effort and in a shorter amount of time. But to every adult that feels the void left after becoming an adult to only focus on life we are told we should live—one with nice cars and drive-thrus and a high ratio of pre-made dinners—those adults know that throwing caution to the wind and riding a bike with the sun glaring down into your eyes and muscles aching from conquering “the hill” and wind whipping your hair around is life. Those feelings, those mean you are alive. It means that you can do and that you did do. We think that time is gone and we ache for our kids because they are seeming to miss those times you remember so distantly but fondly.

We all knew it as toddlers.

We lost it by middle school.

We miss what we’ve lost by adulthood.

abandoned skates

BUT NO MORE!!!!!!

Quit the comfort excuses and go out and do it. Walk in the woods with your kids and when you see a rotting log dig in it with your bare hands and see what you can find. It is not written anywhere that as an adult you are just destined to die as slowly as you can. We feel like we are told: “Don’t take risks, be cautious of every stranger, stay clear of germs.” Well don’t listen to ‘them.’ Germs build our immune system, 99% of strangers could be potential friends, and risks are what move us forward.

Jump into a pool even if you think it’ll be too cold. Better yet, jump in with your clothes still on. Have a food fight. Unplug the TV. Try to cut your own hair (you can always pay someone to fix it if you need to. First have an adventure with it.) What else do toddlers do? Stop in your tracks and admire every strange animal you come across, even if it’s an ugly, mean looking dog. Dance in the grocery store when that song you like comes on. Catch snowflakes or raindrops on your tongue. Stop and smell every flower. While you’re squatted down there, inspect the ants and disrupt their path and see how they react. Answer the phone with a British accent. Color outside the lines and in unconventional colors.

messy painting

Those are just the LITTLE things. Since we are now adults we can also do things like: Skydive. Buy an old-run down car and use YouTube to figure out how to fix it yourself. Bike to the store to buy three gallons of milk and then figure out how to get them home. When you’re driving home from church one day blow past the house and keep driving with no plan except to call into work for Monday. Think you have a chance to be the best in something and then go for it. Order the weirdest looking thing on the menu and then eat it—well, at least some of it—then tip the waiter 50%, just because this is life and life is meant to be lived. We can’t be the people we were created to be if we don’t ever do anything. So be generous, take risks on things and people, be willing, have your hands deep down in this life all the way up past your elbows in any and every way you feel even slightly inspired.

adventure

Adventure means stepping out and getting dirty and stretching yourself to be more of who you were meant to be. We should not atrophy into a shadow form of our abilities.

 

 

 


I once said that I didn’t need special bike shorts to get outside and bike. Someone responded, “Those shorts are a necessity for me if I’m riding any length of time.” I get the point she was trying to make but, a fear of chaffing should not cripple your life. It’s just an example of a way we can let the desire to be comfortable creep in to steal away our lives. By all means, ride your bike with whatever clothes you have on and suffer the consequences of being adventurous. Chaffed. Dirty. Sore. Tired. Accomplished. Alive.

We naturally find ourselves finding our way to a more and more comfortable life. I implore you, do whatever you can to fight it.

Sombrero lady

Be weird

 

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That black, black day is coming up

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 26

Product: Let’s see. What else can be buy less of? How about other people’s love? Do you have people in your life you feel obligated to buy love from?

That’s not how love really works and you know it. We all know it.

Holidays are so horrible when it comes to obligation and guilt. For more on this one you can go back and read when I gave you the suggestion of releasing others from feeling that guilt about you.

You can also go and watch this clip. It describes it all.

Don’t you want to be a person who buys your friends gifts when you see something that makes you think of them fondly and you know they’ll love instead of saving it for the next holiday or birthday or- worse yet- feeling like you have to buy them something when you don’t know what to get them. We can never balance the pressure right in socially pressured situations anyway.

Please do what you can to help break the sticky web of obligation that is now normal here. Buy out of the blue gifts for your friends. Be generous all the time. Don’t spend so much on socially pressured situations and it will be more enjoyable to be naturally generous.

Reason to buy less: It’s much harder to lose your car keys when you don’t have a lot of other stuff around.

Suggestion: Sleep on it. Don’t buy anything that’s not consumable without sleeping on it first. (I will allow the situation of being in a store and stopping dead with the realization that you’re on your last roll of TP. By all means, run back and grab more toilet paper without sleeping on it.)

Give each purchase the weight it deserves.

Do you know how much work it is to adopt? They don’t just let you waltz into an orphanage and pick up a ward. They make sure you’re serious about it.

Think of this grossly overstated metaphor next time you’re contemplating a purchase. If you are going to be dishing out the cash and being responsible for a product that will stick around with you, you need to be sure you are ready for the responsibility. This is something you will have to live with and care for. Once it wears down you will need to repair it. Are you okay with that?

Or can someone else give that thing a better life than you can? Were you just going to throw it in a drawer until one day you happened to need it? It is just a sparkly flash that is pretty today and will be boring to you within a week?

Don’t take in products that you’ll be putting back up for adoption for the remainder of its useful life once the initial interest has worn off. They deserve better than being jerked around like that.

“Can you help?”

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Several weeks ago a woman looking to move to my city with her young girls while she goes to school emailed my church looking for a host family. She’s only here temporarily and wanted to be connected with Christian friends and have someone to watch her youngest during the day while she is at school.

The announcement was made to over 200 women at our Bible study so over 200 families were represented there. Surely one of them had an extra room in their home and the ability to stay home and watch a young child. Since this particular study is during the day it makes sense that almost everyone there was either retired, a stay at home mom/wife or worked from home (like myself.) There must be someone who could do it.

No one said they would help. NO ONE.

Why am I so frustrated about it?

Reason #1  I am frustrated: Because I think it very clearly points out the problems we have as a society.

All over the world families share spaces. But here we tend to be very selfish. Everyone here’s got these honkin’ huge homes and they keep it all to themselves. Everyone “needs” their own home with their own room chock full of their own VAT of stuff.  Everyone “needs” a cellphone. Everyone “needs” their own car. Everyone “needs” electricity 24 hours a day. These “needs”… *shakes head*

Gotta a puddle to bathe in? Then be happy about it!

Gotta a puddle to bathe in? Then be happy about it!

Now, I do happen to know many people who don’t fit this selfish description. In fact I think it’s due to these people that I’m so frustrated right now. Two of them emailed me just this morning. These people are good, close friends that I love dearly and they do EVERYTHING.

One family is in southern Asia right now pouring their heart and souls into young adults. Some of the young adults they’re trying to help are being married off (read “sold off”) at 16. Many of them have nothing and don’t know how to script their newly adult lives. This family I know welcomes ANYONE into their home (including my family a few times) and doesn’t think of their own “needs” except to implore to their Father in heaven for support. (Seriously, when we went to visit it was like pulling teeth to find out what we could bring for them. They don’t want and realize they don’t need anything stuff-wise.)

The other couple that emailed this morning is currently in Central-Eastern Africa pouring all of their earthly resources (including their own health) into the street children there. They bandage feet broken by a lack of shoes and souls broken by desperate situations. They often don’t have electricity and live in such extreme heat that no one here would think it livable to not have the air-conditioning running 24/7. They too never consider using their talents and abilities to land them a nice kooshy job to buy a nice house here with tasty water out of the tap. Instead they email us asking us how our family is doing (even including the dog!) and to thank us for a tiny service I was able to do for them. Seriously. You can’t get any more opposite of selfish with these folks.

I LOVE these people. So many people here LOVE these people and it breaks our hearts that they are so far away and yet they can’t do anything but continue to follow where God has led them and help others. They have so little themselves and then they share it with everyone around them. They don’t just say “yes” once in awhile. It’s their way of life to say “yes” all the time.

Even without the Christian call to help others, many millions of people find themselves sharing their resources, even if just out of necessity. It doesn’t hurt to live without everything you think you “need.” Why do we think we can’t share?

Gotta bowl full of rice and a little extra to share? Be happy about it and DO IT!

Gotta bowl full of rice and a little extra to share? Be happy about it and DO IT!

Reason #2 I am frustrated: Because we are missing out!

Don’t think that my friends are really just suffering. There are many benefits.

Can you imagine all of the adventure they are experiencing?! Nothing get’s the adrenaline running like turning the corner to find a pack of wild dogs (I know, I’ve done it!) No need to book a trip to Spain to run with the bulls. And no need to watch those reality shows. Just walk into any restaurant and point to a random menu item and you’ve got yourself a challenge! Anytime you allow yourself to be put out of your comfort zone you’ve got yourself an adventure!

Careening through the mountains while crammed into a truck with a bunch of people? Safe? no. Adventurous? Definitely. If you ever get a chance DO IT.

Careening through the mountains while crammed into a truck with a bunch of people? Safe? No. Adventurous? Definitely. If you ever get a chance DO IT.

Can you imagine all of the things they are learning?!  The problems you face give you an extraordinarily effective crash course in life. The best way to learn is hands-on. The day I was left alone in a pizzeria was the quickest I had ever learned a new job! And there is SO much to learn out there in the world.

Life lessons. Our eldest had never ridden the subway before. Nothing like a crash course in a foreign country to bring him up to speed!

Life lessons. Our eldest had never ridden the subway before. Nothing like a crash course in a foreign country to bring him up to speed!

Can you imagine how much they are growing and developing as people to have these experiences?! You’ve got to know that adversity builds character. Heck, it’s in the Bible! Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Just think of the character of the people who are the most generous are. Are you thinking kind? Happy? Loving? I know that many of them I know are real characters… if you catch my drift. Ah, they’re great. Characters with character.

This is the most beautiful little girl-- usually.

This is the most beautiful little girl… On the outside– usually. On the inside– always SO beautiful.

Can you imagine the friends/support system they have? Everyone loves them because everyone is drawn to unselfish people. The more you don’t seek it (whatever it is), the more it finds you. I know that the most unselfish people I know are the ones I would most likely give my eyeballs to at the first hint that they need glasses. The more you give without expecting anything in return, the more you will be given. I may have not given away my eyeballs yet but I’ve done things like hauled Dr. Pepper to the other end of the earth and I’ve torn through my own closets looking for anything I could give that could be used.

You know what I mean. I’m not just tooting my own horn here. Think about the most unselfish person you know. Now picture them on the other side of a parking lot from you and picture them dropping something while they carry a load. You’re picturing yourself sprinting over there to pick it up for them, aren’t you? I know you are. You want to help them and you’re almost happy for the opportunity to do so.

Friends are important

Friends are important and you WANT to support them just as they support you.

Can you imagine the memories that they will carry with them forever? How about a little kid’s smile when you pretend to take off your thumb or of all the weddings of young adults making lifelong commitments based on values you helped instill in them?

How can you not love looking at those faces!

How can you not love remembering these faces!

This little girl was a result of a marriage that I was able to attend. Two years later we returned and I got to hold this brand new blessing. Ah, memories. So sweet.

This little girl was a result of a marriage that I was able to attend. Two years later we returned and I got to hold this brand new blessing. Ah, memories. So sweet.

It’s amazing how many tears of love and joy you can cry over just the memories. I really think my joyful tears in my short life have surpassed the tears I’ve cried from pain or sorrow. Because I am willing to put myself into situation that may seem uncomfortable to others.

 Because uncomfortable-unshomfortable!

Who cares about comfort?! What mom says she’s rather not have her kids than have to go through the labor? What athlete would rather turn in their medals, trophies, rings, belts, etc. for a life of comfort? What doctor would prefer to go back and not study all those hours and just be a waiter? The memories of attaining that degree, status, etc. are like icing on the cake. They’re something to be proud of. Not to avoid.

These are things that we would miss out on if we say “no” to giving to others and no degree of cell phone, SUV, or nice perfectly clean guest bedroom that is only used a few times a year will ever come close to filling the gap.

Reason #3 I am frustrated: Because the EARTH, that’s why!

It’s like carpooling. Why, oh why, are we using more resources than we really need? A lot of times we are so incredibly inefficient. My friends don’t travel to Africa, see patients for a day and then fly back. What a waste that would be! Why would this mom need to have her own place and then shuttle her daughter to and from daycare?

With a minimalistic mindset everything you own should do double duty (at least.) Your kitchen towels double as oven mitts and your mugs work for both coffee and soup. Why not have a house that does double duty too? The gas is already keeping all that air warm, the electricity is already providing you with light, and the refrigerator is already working to chill all that space– shouldn’t someone else enjoy it too? Let’s do all we can to not be wasteful.

Mr. WW went a little wild in the forest.

The forests are good. Mr. WW went a little wild there.

Reason #4 I am frustrated: Because there are even selfish reasons we’re missing out on!

My example friends above may not have a lot of selfish rewards for their adventure, but this lady is offering to pay for someone to have the privilege to have the adventure, life lessons, memories, etc. The amount she’s willing to pay would have paid my mortgage (back when we had a mortgage) more than twice over! That’s a good little side-hustle, my friends! Wanna kill some debt or build a savings? Bingo! Help and BE helped.

Or how about just having the selfish benefit of having another adult around to make dinner once in awhile? There are even selfish reasons to take up such an offer!

What if she's great at carpentry and can help you update your mud room?

What if she’s great at carpentry and can help you update your mud room?

Why won’t anyone say yes? It’s so frustrating. I wish I could. I really do. That’s a fine adventure right there. Just laying there waiting to be picked up and lived.

Is there the possibility for disaster? Sure. (Especially if you think of disaster in first-world country terms.) But even if disaster happens you still show you can fly in the face of adversity, you still get the adventure, memories, life lessons, etc.

Sometimes you'll face adversity like grass taller than your mower once you leave for awhile to experience life. Sure it's hard work to take care of it but it's still just another experience to learn and grow from!

Sometimes you’ll face adversity like grass taller than your mower once you leave for awhile to experience life. Sure it’s hard work to take care of it but it’s still just another experience to learn and grow from!

C’mon people! If you can all just be a smidge as awesome, inspiring, unselfish and giving as my friends I mentioned above, the world would be a much better place and YOU would be a better person for it too.

Please say YES to whatever adventure life throw your way!


 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/50188265@N00/183344129″>Help</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/72309532@N08/6522362311″>Autumn</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

How to hug a friend– sometimes without touching them

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I was never much of a hugger when I was younger. I thought of physical touch as an invasion of personal space.

But I remember when the tide turned. It was after I was married and I was working at the Credit Union. I don’t remember who it was or why, but someone broke the touch barrier. I remember them putting their hand on my shoulder as they leaned from behind to help me with something. I remember thinking, “Wow, they’re touching me and it feels kinda nice. Like they are comfortable with me. And you know what? I’m comfortable with them too.”

welcome hug

(Note: There was the one guy who was infamous for his back rubs of the single ladies– it wasn’t him. I do remember that he wore great cologne. Really. Great. Cologne.  Note that single guys. Skip the Axe and buy good cologne– and don’t be weird and give back rubs to acquaintances.)

I’ve since learned how to kindly break that touch barrier myself. I’ve many times repeated the hand on the shoulder touch. I’ve perfected the “I’m trying to scoot around you and there’s not much space so I’ll touch my fingertips to your back to let you know I’m here.” I’ve jump hugged friends in their ecstasy and I’ve held friends while they sobbed in pain.

hug

But one of my very favorite hugs is the “you’re sick” hug. No, it’s not that I’m rejoicing in someone being ill. I’m also not talking about the supportive, “you found out you have cancer” or “you have a migraine” hug. I’m talking about a good ‘ole “you’re contagious” hug.

sick

Right. That’s why I love them. Because of your reaction right there.

No one gives “you’re contagious” hugs. But that’s the whole point.

When you’re sick you’re not feeling very lovable. You’re nose is red and/or your face is pale. You don’t feel like doing your hair or makeup and you wear only your comfiest clothes. You feel “blah” and “ick” and ugly on top of it. And then everyone avoids you. It adds insult to injury.

Everybody’s okay with it though. They understand how germs work and they don’t want to get their friends sick. I am the same way when I’m sick, but not when I’m healthy and a friend is ill.

I hug ‘em.

Call me weird, but I am willing to risk catching their germs in order to show that I’m supportive of them. I know that I may get sick. But I’m healthy and not afraid of the consequences. I know that germs will come (if not from this friend, from some random door knob or something) and I know that I may suffer for a time but I will conquer them because I’m a healthy person. I may as well catch the germs from supporting a person I love.

And because it’s so unexpected and at such a down time, it means so much more than a normal hug.

That’s what’s good about being healthy. It’s also what’s good about being financially healthy.

When you are at all financially healthy, you can take the risk and jump in bravely to risky situations. You can back your neighbor kid’s first foray into business by buying his lemonade supplies for him. You can lend your sister with no credit history the rest of the money to buy her first car. You can even buy the groceries of the old lady in front of you at the grocery store.

Will you lose money? Possibly. But it is good for you to take those risks.

Sure it’s good for that neighbor kid, that sister trying to get her first job that requires a car, that old lady on a fixed income, and that friend who’s achy with a horrible case of the sniffles. But it’s also good for you! The loss of income or the ability to breathe through your own nose for a time is a small price to pay for the feeling of human connection.

And then you build up immunity. Just as your body gets practice whippin’ those germs, you get practice on handling surprise expenses. You learn how to roll with the punches (to take a YNAB term) and you learn how to deal with the unplanned loss.

So if you’re not at a place where you are financially healthy right now, do what you can to get there! Open a savings for emergencies. Pay down that credit card. Cancel that cable. Drink that Vitamin C or do those sit ups.

When you are healthy you can do so much more—and you should!

Lifting hug

See, even if you’re not a hugger we can get that human connection. We can support and encourage others and it’s good for everyone involved to allow ourselves to suffer a little bit. We grow and improve and we do it together. So open yourself up. A little voluntary exposure ends up a win/win. Unless you’re a weird guy who gives back rubs. Um, no.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/14915934@N07/5489480385″>Civil – Débora & Matías</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/34199510@N00/7400646728″>Hug</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/34176077@N02/6711933651″>BAM!</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/7284700@N06/2881031710″>Sick Me, Right Now</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Is Generosity Ever Wrong?

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giving change

How would you react if you offered to be generous to someone in need, only to find out that they weren’t really in need at all?

I ask because this happened to me recently. Someone offered to buy my kids some hot chocolate.

Oh, were you thinking that I was the generous one? Well, I do try to be a generous person; but more and more I run into instances where someone is trying to be generous to me.

And I don’t like it.

No that sounds terrible, I really do really love it, but I hate how it makes me feel. Wait… what? I’m making no sense.

Example time.

I was biking the kids to school one morning and a lady came running out of a gas station at us to offer to buy us bus passes. It was an extremely sweet and generous offer. And not only was she willing to shell out the cash– she was willing to leave her warm post and hunt us down to offer it!

For half a second I thought about what it would be like to accept just so she can be happy about her kindness.

But I feel terrible because I had to tell her no because I would be a terrible person if I accepted her offer. You see, she thought we were needy. She thought that we biked past her place of employment every day because we had no choice because, really, who would willingly bike in the snow?

But I had to tell her the truth and ruin her good deed. I somehow had to tell her that we had access to, not one, but THREE working vehicles. I had to tell her that we have plenty of money, both in cash and credit, to purchase bus passes easily if we need them. I somehow had to convey in one short sentence that our biking is not due to need—at least monetary need. That what we are in need of is: Exercise. Together time. Personal discipline. A simpler life. Self-reliance. A healthier planet. Contentment. Etc.

Would you be surprised to learn that this family is actually worth billions of dollars?! Hey, maybe. I just found the pic on the internet. : P

Would you be surprised to learn that this family is actually worth billions of dollars?! Hey, maybe. I just found the pic on the internet. I do know they look pretty cool, both figuratively and literally. : P

And somehow I had to tell her all this. Here’s one sentence that would encapsulate it all: “Sorry lady, I’m actually quite rich compared to the rest of the world and we do this because this is the best way to do it; so it looks like you have it all wrong, especially if you don’t bike yourself.”

I’m a jerk.

But I’m NOT a jerk, really. I really do love the offer. I love the kindness of strangers. In fact, one of the reasons I love to bike is that I feel more connected to the community. There’s less metal and glass blocking me off from everyone else. I make MUCH more eye contact with people when I’m biking. When I drive, they’re cars. When I bike, they’re people.

So, Dear lady, I am happy to meet you. I am beyond touched at the sweetness of your offer to us total strangers. You don’t know us and yet you care enough about us to want to help us. I appreciate that so much. Please don’t take my rejection of your offer as a rejection of you. Please understand that your offer, though well thought out, does not really apply in my situation once you know the whole truth. I hope you can realize with what joy we bike (although when we meet you we are just finishing coming to the top of a long hill and are a little sweaty and winded); and I hope you can also find joy in realizing that we share this little part of the planet. Be sure to wave when you see us bike by tomorrow, I’ll be watching for you. That is what I would like to say.

Here’s what I did say:
*big over zealous smile to try and portray my delight but probably came off more creepy clown-like*

“Oh, thank you so much but we bike for fun, right guys?”

*Kids pant out a tired “yeah” after coming up the hill.*

 I have not done this lady’s generosity justice.

But this is the time of year where we are reminded more and more about giving and generosity. We give piles of gifts; and, if you can’t afford them, numerous organizations have been collecting like mad to give you piles of gifts free of charge so you’re not left out of the gifting process.

But it’s hard to receive sometimes, isn’t it?

Either we don’t feel worthy (my problem) or we don’t feel understood (also my problem.)

So here’s my open letter to EVERYONE. I am not worthy and it’s okay if you don’t understand me. I am letting you all know right now so you’re not put off by my weird, off the cuff reaction. I just don’t want you to feel tricked. I’m not trying to trick you. I don’t live by normal social rules for other reasons. Not to make you feel bad for me so I can get a free meal and then laugh manically later when I put the money I saved on lunch into my huge vault of gold bars. “Ha, ha, ha, got another free lunch. What a stooge. More now for me!”

So, should we be more cautious in our giving to stay away from the character I just described? I keep thinking about the Bible verse, let’s see (internet to the rescue)… Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

No, I am not saying that I’m an angel. I am saying that we are supposed to be kind to strangers and they may even not really have any need at all. You see, it’s the GIVING that’s on you. Just the act of giving. What is done after it’s received is all on the recipient.

I promise to do my best not to intentionally dupe you and I also understand what a great thing it is to be on the giving end. I don’t want to take that from you. So give. Please give. Willingly and freely give.  Just understand, you might find that the person you’ve given to is actually not as needy as you might think. That’s okay. In this world you’ll have plenty of opportunities to give and still 99.9% of the time whomever is on the receiving end will be blessed by it—even if it’s not really what they need.

So what about you? Have you ever found yourself as an unwitting target of charity? How do you feel? How do you respond?


photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/2079071542/”>Leo Reynolds</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/calgarycyclechic/10525864054/”>Calgary Cycle Chic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;