What if I told you the most fun you can ever extract from money is the art of giving it away? What if I told you no financial transaction fulfills the human heart quite like using your hard-earned money to boost and enrich the lives of other folks who are in true need?
If you’re like most, you may find it hard to believe me.
To be fair, I wouldn’t blame you since there was a time in my life when I would’ve thought the above statements couldn’t be more untrue. It was a season when I sought joy in buying shoes:
- brown shoes
- black shoes
- dress shoes
- tennis shoes
- white shoes
- beige shoes
- flip flops
- beach sandals
- expensive shoes
- shoes on clearance
- shoes, shoes, shoes ad nauseum
At one point in college, my family counted 32 pairs of shoes in my closet. My organization notwithstanding, there was never enough room to display them neatly in a college dorm. For a guy, I was frankly going overboard but it didn’t sink in until a blond surfer type told me, “Dude, you have more shoes to wear than there are days in a month.”
I was actually super embarrassed to realize what I suffered from wasn’t just an obsession with shoes, it was a much deeper issue. I was seeking to medicate my depressed heart with compulsive shopping—excess shoes, excess toiletries, excess clothes, excess hair products, more and more books, and more and more Knick Knacks than I could ever consume.
Where getting failed to cure the insatiable appetite I had for more, giving slid right in showing me how much joy could be found in seeing others first. When marketing ploys trumpeted fulfillment comes from buying goods and gadgets, giving assured me how much better it would be to give than to receive.
So, I capitulated. And in doing so, I learned some important lessons:
- Giving makes room in your heart for what is deemed most important. I chose to rid myself of all but three pairs of shoes and I felt so much lighter. I found room in my heart to focus on others because I also quit my incessant shoe shopping habit. And consequently, I found I had surplus money to contribute toward meeting true needs in my community. And, more importantly, I learned people should always be more valuable than shoes.
- Giving releases your heart from the tight grip of stuff. Freedom is hard to come by when there’s too much stuff vying for your attention. This is not to say a minimalistic lifestyle is the only way to achieve freedom; I am merely saying stuff has a way of crowding one’s heart and occupying so much space/time not much is left. It might be helpful to jumpstart your freedom from stuff by choosing a shirt you really like, a book you truly enjoy, a specialty item you dearly prize and gifting them to people who could use them.
- Giving is a two-way street especially when you expect nothing in return. I am always astounded by what happens when I give. Far from being deprived, the more I give the more rewards return to me. Sometimes the reward is a sense of peace. Other times the reward is contentment and joy. Yet other times the rewards are respect, gratitude, loyalty, and acts of service on the part of those who receive from you. And more often than not, the reward is more earnings and acquisitions.
So, my friend, giving is not at all about depriving you of items you own outright; it is about providing you with better things you need for your freedom, joy, and contentment.