The Time Between Selfishness and Generosity
There's beauty in the waiting times...
the time between childhood and adulthood
the time between high school and a career
the time between winter and summer
the time between ignorance and wisdom
the time between failure and success
Your kids will go through a time between selfishness and generosity and that is a good journey for them to be on. Once they get on the side of generosity, the chances of ever going back are slim. Nurture this in between time. Remember that generosity is not in our nature. Before any of us understand the joy of giving, we wrestle through a time of wanting to keep it all to ourselves. And if we're honest, no matter how good we get at giving, we still struggle from time to time with gripping the very things that God has called us to hold lightly.
Walking into generosity takes time. Asking your kids questions is a good place to start.
Who do you know that has a need?
When is a time when you needed something and someone else helped you? How did that feel?
What is something that you value?
What do you have that could be shared?
When we share, what are the risks? What are the rewards?
Don't be shocked when you take the time to plan a Saturday handing out food to homeless people and get home only to find that your kids complain about the speed of your WIFI. IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN because your kids are human. Multiple times we've taken our kids to an orphanage overseas where they play with kids who own zero toys and only a handful of clothes. Still, we return home to complaints about supper and shouting about who had the video game remote first. It used to really irk me. Truth be told, it still does. But, I have to remind myself that we are all born wanting things to go our way. As infants, we cry to get what we want and that is a good thing. Some of that desire for self-preservation is necessary. Boundaries are good and wise. It's the great responsibility of parents to help our children navigate through the continuum from infancy to adulthood. Developing a generous spirit takes years. Managing what we need while responsibly meeting the needs of others is a craft worth pursuing with our children. Learning to trust God and making wise choices is difficult even for mature adults, so undertake this endeavor with grace and longsuffering.
Think of it like planting a garden. We're down in the dirt, planting seeds and rooting up weeds. We're close to the thorns and the bugs and we can't see the finished product. We're getting poked. We're sneezing. We're hot and dirty and stooped over and it feels like it will never end. You have to decide if the beauty that you hope for someday is worth the effort you'll have to put in today. It will take years of tending before we step back and look down on the blooms that erupt as a result of our diligence. Your kids will likely go through phases that don't look anything like the result you're hoping for. Growth is messy. Keep at it. Make a plan. Set up opportunities to serve. Put it on the calendar. Drag your complaining, snotting, sassing kids along. Show them how it's done. You might not see the fruit today, but their future spouses, co-workers, neighbors and children will be so grateful you planted those seeds.