The Reward of Generous Living
Here's the thing: you can model generosity and talk about sacrifice and choose love and study the example of Jesus and still have selfish, rotten, ugly moments. We were all born into a world where we don't fit. We weren't made for this place. We were made for Eden. But here we are, navigating through all this brokenness, trying to shine some light, stumbling, falling, picking ourselves up and trying again.
I've had more than one person comment that with all our efforts to live generously, our children must be total gems. Let me set the record straight. Our kids fight. They demand their own way. They get downright ugly with each other and with us. They insist on going first. They take things straight out of each others' hands. They yell. They interrupt. They whine and complain and fuss and refuse and do all the rotten things that every normal kid does because they are human. They've sat with kids who own nothing and then complained about the speed of our wifi three days after returning home.
In all honesty, sometimes I wonder if our efforts are for naught. I fear that we're somehow just massaging our middle-class guilt with all this talk of generosity but really getting nowhere. If we just throw in the towel, will things turn out any differently? Will they end up being exactly the same people whether or not we drag them into opportunities to see what struggle looks like? Some days it feels like it's not worth it, like we're taking one step forward and two steps back.
Then I receive a text like this one:
And one of our kids asks to take five of her friends to Feed My Starving Children to pack food for hungry kids for her birthday party.
And she also carries her brother home from the park because he got sand in his eye.
Deep breath. It matters. They're listening. They see us. They get it. They are good people who do dumb stuff. One minute they're soaked in selfishness and next thing you know, they shine. I can't guarantee that all this work is going to pay off. I hope they all move out and get jobs and love their spouses and contribute something beautiful to the world. But the reality is that they will experience their fair share of failure and embarrassment and nothing I do is going to keep them from that.
I still think it's worth it, though. I hope they look back on these days and recognize that we loved them enough to make them look away from themselves. Will it make any difference? I don't know. But I'm not willing to find out what happens if we don't.