Have you ever reached the end of something, only to discover that the finish line is merely the starting line for another leg of the journey? I felt that way when I graduated from high school, and eventually with my PhD. I'm feeling it again today.
Admittedly, I have not taken enough time to reflect on just what this giving journey has taught me. A few initial lessons come to mind:
- Giving money away responsibly takes more effort than one might think. I didn't always put in the research and reflection time required.
- Spreading gifts widely but thinly is an approach to giving with distinct advantages and disadvantages
- People's reactions to this project were mixed and interesting. They ranged from immediate enthusiasm to taking offense to lobbying for their cause to indifference - and I'm sure many others I wasn't aware of.
- Once the money was already 'spent in my head', giving it away was easy
- I did and didn't want people to engage in conversation with me about this. At times I was craving more 'traffic' and other times I just didn't want to bother thinking about it anymore.
- I'm not sure this has transformed me into a real blogger, but I suspect I'll occasionally miss it.
I appreciate how this process has sensitized me to needs in my community and around the world. It's broadened what I've been reading. It's gotten me back in the habit of generosity, but hasn't really required much sacrifice. It hasn't been as contagious to my children as I'd hoped it would be, but perhaps to a few other people at least...
As my husband and I discuss what's next for us in terms of learning to give, we are paying close attention to some of these lessons. What needs have come to our attention that we are well placed to meet? How might we focus our giving more strategically? How can we do more than write a cheque? What might this mean for our whole family?
No firm answers or plans yet. I am waiting to learn from a couple of upcoming trips to Africa - one to Lesotho in March that friends are taking, and a second to Kenya and Tanzania in July that I hope to take with my daughter. Needs will become obvious to us through those and I want to be open to responding generously. I'm also curious if we will end up playing a larger role with a program called Baby Smarts that I've recently begun facilitating in local high schools through Beginnings Family Services. It talks about healthy relationships, slowing down decision making, understanding what parenthood requires, and lots of other important issues for teens. Seems like a great fit for our family and a program with lots of room for growth.
For now, this week's final donation is going to the Benevolent Fund at our church. The fund is used to provide for people in our congregation and community who find themselves unexpectedly in financial need. These funds are Truly needed. They're applied to local needs in a compassionate, immediate and practical way, with little concern for overhead costs or 'overthinking.' I could use a dose of that right now.
To those of you who have faithfully read this blog and/or encouraged me along the way, I sincerely thank you. I hope Just Giving It has been an inspiration to you in some way. May you have not only a happy new year, but a prosperous and generous one as well.