Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘giving’

Receive Much When You Give Much

‎It was a cold and friendly morning, bringing in whisps of that early Christmas sensation once again. As usual, I greeted neighbors on my way to work. I was startled when one of them said:

“Good morning! Cold, isn’t it? It’s gonna be Christmas soon! Why not throw in some gifts to us?”
I only grinned, bluntly said, “Budget’s tight,” and went my way.
I was quite disturbed at that kind of greeting. Do I look like Santa’s daughter? Sorry, I don’t wear red.
Ok, I can pass that out as a joke. But I wonder why it is a common mindset to most of us to ask for a gift this Christmas instead of the other way?
Somehow, her greeting’s a bit off. Maybe because I’m too thrifty (and I admit that), but being generous dosen’t mean you can throw your money to everyone in the world.
Somehow, I can’t help but think that the poverty mindset had made most of us obsessed with the hope of being treated by another well-off person in your neighborhood. It’s a sad thing to use the Christmas season as an excuse for asking “aguinaldo” or gifts for the sake of self-gratification. We have had much of the culture of receiving rather than giving. The worst thing is when we receive we ask for more without ever thinking of giving back.
In the Philippines, parents accompany their children during Christmas to their “ninong” and “ninang” (godfather and godmother). When your inaanak or godchildren dropby your house, you have to give them gifts or money. But my mother taught me differently. Whenever I dropby to my ninong or ninang, I give them a gift. Usually, it’s a chilled refrigirator cake that I made myself (yummy!)
Remember the cliche it’s better to give than to receive. I guarantee you that when you give, it’s equally fulfilling as receiving — much better actually.
But when I give, I think about it. I don’t just throw boxes in the neighboor all around while laughing, “Ho ho ho!” I make sure that my gifts are given to the right people: ones who are good stewards of it and to your generosity, and not the abusive receiver. These are the ones who are always thankful whatever they receive. Much like planting a small seed on good ground.
I guess we have to shift mindsets. It’s time we give for the sake of love. Whenever we do, we receive much more than when we ask to be given.

 

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Arms Open Wide

I stopped and looked at her eyes,
Inching towards my direction
Like colorless glass in the shining sun
They tried to animate above the dark circles

She smiled with that lifeless smile
Forced out of her dire humanity
Her face sagging in soot and smoke
Her cheeks covered in her burnt-colored hair

Knocking at the car window so secure,
She hoped for a coin to live for a day,
I looked away beyond the foggy air,
Waiting for her to forget my I am in this ride

When she vanished by my car,
I turned to see a horrible sight
My reflection dying in painful pride
Of not accepting the needy with arms open wide

Sowing Away the Hidden Seed

IMG_0490[1]What do we gain when we give away love through our money and other material possessions despite having nothing? Sacrificing what we have is not easy, especially when what we see is enough for ourselves.

Let’s admit, it’s not easy to give, even for a cause. My mom has seen this in some of her comrades at their senior citizen’s group. She suggested that instead of spending for their Christmas party this year, she urged her fellow officers to give money to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (or Typhoon Yolanda as its Philippine name). However, most of them were hesitant. The reason: they’re not sure if it will go to the victims. But soon enough, they were convinced, as the organization she suggested is legitimate and has been doing outreach missions for years. She was just saddened to find out that most of them handed down less than half of what each spend for their Christmas parties.

I’m not against Christmas parties. I enjoy them. It’s just our security on our money that binds us from sharing with others.

I must admit, I’m still struggling in this area at this point of writing. We have heard countless times that what we sow is what we’ll reap. But due to our culture of gaining and fighting for our rights, we have disregarded the principle of sowing and reaping many times.

Most of us have been pampered with material possessions. As a yuppie, I’ve grown to the idealism of treating myself, causing me to buy things and food I don’t need. I’m one of this generation’s impulsive buyers, which regrettably had me at debt at most times. Lofty food is one of my weaknesses. I am one of those willing to spend big bucks for expensive meals. However, when someone is in need, I would think it over before giving anything — and when I give, I give too little.

I realized today that I have lost much because I’m not a cheerful giver. Actually, I am a good saver, but due to bank closures and joblessness two years ago, I lost my savings. I have been selfish in my own principles of handling money, not realizing that everything we handle is temporary. I never give much, not even love and mercy, for I was a skeptic at humankind. I viewed that everyone is not a good steward of whatever I lend or give. But I’ve judged too much. I was the one who’s not a good steward.

Right now, I am in the learning process of being a good steward of money. The more painful part here is learning to give money to the needy. In every fruit of our labor is a seed we need to sow. Of course, we cannot eat the whole fruit, right? So, we have to sow the seed into good ground to produce a hundredfold. It’s the same with money. We can’t keep it all. So, we have to give part of it to the “good ground”, let’s say an organization or to the needy. We might be surprised how much will be given back to us.

A friend of mine had taught me this before I went to Ireland. Having no money to go there, I was holding on to what I have. But my friend, a prophetic fellow, sensed that the Lord was teaching me to give despite of having nothing. It’s a hard process to learn. But there is blessing in obedience. I was surprised that a few friends supported for my pocket money right after, even though I did not ask them. Right now, though, I’m still settling my plane ticket! But I know God is faithful and that He provides all my needs. 🙂

It’s a Biblical principle. Believer or no believer, I’ve seen how this principle is fulfilled when done. I’ve heard testimonies on how blessed are the people who sacrificed much. It’s no wonder that some rich people become richer, for they have secretly given part of their income to foundations.

It’s not money that matters at this point. It’s how we view it. Everything we receive is meant to be shared, even the kindness and love we receive. We might not see the results when we give part of ourselves away, but in time we will realize what kind of harvest will be grown when we sacrifice what we have — even a part of it. Just as the seed that grew into a hundredfold when planted into good ground, it would be the same when we give love through acts or money. Sacrifice of love will reap an abundance of love. Sacrifice of our money will reap an abundance of income. May we live the lifestyle of sowing into good ground and thus reap back a hundredfold in our lives.

Fixing Up the Culture of Giving

It has been instilled into us the nature of giving. With our Pinoy characteristic of being thoughtful, we take the chance of

The promotion of joy in materialism has left our culture marred with greed...but should we dwell in the false joy it brings?

The promotion of joy in materialism has left our culture marred with greed…but should we dwell in the false joy it brings?

showing our appreciation and love to friends on Christmas. However, the adverse effect of the commerciality of the season caused us to expect…and want even more.

One tradition that has been going on in years is what we call “pamamasko“. Kids would come and visit their ninongs and ninangs (godfathers and godmothers), expecting that they would be given an aguinaldo (gift). So comes the saying, “Christmas is for kids”, as they get most of the treats of the season.

Every 25th of December, you can see families going around visiting houses, not only of their ninongs and ninangs but also of other relatives and friends. It’s a good bonding moment for the parents and their kids, and instills a good memory from a visited godparent or relatives. I remember my niece collecting quite a huge amount of money in a day of her pamamasko when she was about three or four years old. But through the long run, one adverse effect of this tradition is the loss of thoughtfulness for one another.

Children are taught to expect instead of giving to their elderly. Actually, some of their parents complain when they don’t

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

find the gifts given to their kids appealing. It’s not only once that I hear such a case whenever I take a public ride in this holiday season, which I believe teaches kids not to be grateful at all.

In turn, their ninongs and ninangs, as well as the other relatives and so-called relatives think of these visiting families as money-grabers. Thus, they lie by laying quiet in the house, pretending no one was there.

It actually causes stress to the one being visited. My mother, though a very generous person, always felt anxious when there’s this usual person who kept on asking if she can come on Christmas Day especially when she needs something. Now, in the Filipino tradition, even if you got nothing to offer, you cannot tell a visitor, “Go back, I have nothing to give you.” But sadly, some people have the tendency to abuse one’s kindness.

The funny thing is that some families not only bring along their kids but also their nieces, nephews, very young siblings, a friend and his kid. Now, most of the mentioned “extra kids” are unfamiliar to the godparents of the kids. It’s very embarassing for a Filipino when these other kids are not given gifts, for some of them had readied gifts only for their godchildren. So, the godparent had to shovel from his savings just to give these other kids an aguinaldo. This happened to me and my mom when one of her inaanak brought a bunch of kids surprisingly at home, and she had to borrow some money from me just to give those who she did not know at all.

When I was younger, my mother taught me when I visit  my ninongs and ninangs, I have to give them something. Usually, I’d bring with us a tray of cream mango cake (made by myself) for each godparent. She taught me never to expect from them, as I should be the one to make them happy by giving back to them. Indeed, there is more joy in giving than receiving. But because my godparents were so fond of me, they can’t help but give me gifts when I visit them (which I would sheepishly accept).

It’s a joy to receive gifts but it’s a bigger joy to give. Usually, there’s a deeper sense of fulfillment when the one you give is grateful for what you have given, no matter how small or affordable it has been. When one says, “It’s the thought that counts”, it’s not only the gift that matters but how the giver remembers you. I hope we change the expectancy of pamamasko into a tradition of giving. I hope we can visit our godparents, relative, and so-called relatives on Christmas Day to give — for this is a good way to remember and honor them. When we do, we are blessed back. The joy and gratefulness we receive back would surely be more fulfilling than the money or toys we get. Besides, you would get out of the notoriety list: from money-grabber, you will be well-remembered as a thoughtful giver. 🙂

And before the day ends, let us remember that we can never take and take as long as we want. The greedy who took more than a day’s supply of the manna given to Moses’ camp were disappointed it got wasted after 24 hours. We are blessed to give away for many other need more than we do.

Merry Christmas everyone! May heaven’s gate be opened over you! 😀

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