I am so excited to introduce you to my friend and M.O.M. Initative mom Cheri Gregory. Her post will challenge and encourage you.
I can’t wait to see their smiles.
I imagine the 3-year-old opening her gift and hugging it close.
The 7-year-old holding hers up and twirling around with it.
Their smiles are the reason I’ve spent grocery money on cuts of expensive fabric and yards of costly lace.
Their smiles are the reason I’ve spent hours at my sewing table. Cutting. Pinning. Stitching. Gathering. Trimming. Edge-finishing. Hemming. Embellishing.
And now, as I carefully wrap each gift, I can not wait for both of my Sugar Plum Tree girls to see the Christmas dresses I’ve so lovingly crafted for them.
I can’t wait to see their smiles.
I am still in my early twenties, and cripplingly unaware of the world outside myself. It does not occur to me that needy families might value their privacy and anonymity.
“My” girls don’t come to the Christmas party.
Their gifts, I am told, will be delivered to them.
I don’t get to see their smiles.
And I am crushed.
I did not go to all that expense and effort so that I could hand over a couple of packages to be delivered.
I made those dresses so that I could see their smiles.
I cry the whole way home.
And because I am still many years away from learning how to ask God to “change my mind” through His word, I spend days mourning.
That I will never see their smiles.
That I put in all that work. For nothing.
That I have been gypped.
Giving So That vs. Giving Because
“The Sugar Plum Tree dress debacle” has become a metaphor that helps me discern the difference between giving so that and giving because.
Those dresses came out of a purely self-ish heart: I wanted and needed the girls’ reactions to validate me as a good, giving person. When I was denied their reactions, I felt that I’d wasted my time and money.
This is the ultimate in giving so that: I give so that I’ll get what I want and need. When I don’t get my wants and needs met, I resent having given.
Giving so that isn’t really giving.
It’s manipulation hidden under fancy wrapping paper.
Giving because flows from a sense of abundance and gratitude. It’s a natural response to recognizing and receiving God’s blessings.
“All must give as they are able, according to the blessings given to them by the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 16:17
When I’m giving because, I am freed from expectations. My gifts have no want or need strings attached.
Because of all God’s given me…
…I can give my handiwork without knowing who will wear it.
…I can give a generous tip without waiting to be thanked.
…I can experience joy in the act of giving, regardless of response (or lack thereof!)
I do hope to see “my” girls’ smiles someday in heaven.
But for now, it’s more than enough that God and I share a secret, knowing smile each time I give because.
Cheri Gregory ~ He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Psalm 18:19
Engaging, entertaining, and enthusiastic, Cheri connects women to the transforming power of God’s love. A story-teller extraordinaire, Cheri draws from Scripture and personal experiences that resonate with women’s frustrations, fears and failures, bringing hope that they are not alone and inspiring courage that they can grow beyond their circumstances.
Cheri, herself, was raised in what appeared to be the “perfect Christian home.” As a child, compensating for underlying family issues, she strove to be the perfect “good little girl.” As a teenager, reacting to her older brother’s drug addiction, she nearly lost her life to eating disorders. Cheri identifies with those who are burdened, and offers hope for the transformation possible through the renewing power of God’s rescuing love.
A Certified Personality Trainer and CLASS* Faculty Member, Cheri has written numerous magazine articles and drama scripts and is featured in Wired That Way: the Complete Personality Plan by Marita Littauer.
Married since 1988 to her opposite Personality, Daniel, a pastor, teacher, and musician, Cheri is a high school English teacher and the mother of two college-age kids (who are also opposite Personalities): Annemarie and Jonathon.
(*Christian Leaders Authors and Speakers Services)