I pride myself on being a thrifty gal. I shop mostly at thrift stores, rarely eat out, make many of my gifts, and don’t spend much on groceries. This style of living came first when I married a frugal guy in grad school, but then became a moral decision, as we chose to use more and more of our income to give to God’s work here and abroad, Women of Vision being a big part of that. Recently, however, I’ve had my perceived sense of thriftiness and stewardship challenged when I’ve learned more and more about the slave labor behind products we’ve used. As a family, I’ve included my kids on these decisions to change our purchasing habits. Besides the unfortunate incidents at church functions when my kids have dramatically and publically called to attention all the slave labor chocolate chip cookies and child slave coffee served (you know you want us at your church), we are glad for the change in our home.
However about a week ago, I was at a well-known store and saw a cute discounted shirt that I wanted for my 7 year old son. Since I hadn’t actually heard that this store was a producer of clothing with bad origins, I turned a blind eye for the sake of fashion and put it in our cart. Later that night, I brought the shirt out to have my son put it on. I was just SURE he would marvel at the softness of his new shirt, pop the tag off and give me a big hug. However, he did not have this response.
He was angry. He was angry at me.
My 7 year old looked at me and said, “Mom, I don’t need another shirt. I have enough clothes. I have TOO MUCH clothes. There are kids in the world with only the clothes on their body. I shouldn’t have another shirt.”
I had no response. I couldn’t even look him in the eye, yet somehow, because I didn’t want the trouble of taking the darn shirt back (or because I needed this shame to be behind me), I convinced him to keep it. I pulled off that tag and sealed the deal. How pathetic is that of me?
I came downstairs after putting my son to bed, felt sick to my stomach and cried. My own child had to remind me about kids who have almost nothing. He told me about these children because I had first told him. He saw that I didn’t live out what I said I believed – what I told them our family believed and lived. Not only do I know the stats on poverty, but I’ve been anticipating the Girl Rising movie coming out for International Women’s Day and sharing to others about the dilemma and hope of oppressed girls in impoverished countries. This should be seeping out of my pores by now. Yeah – I can pat myself on the back to feel better because we do better than most around us do. Yeah – we are all slowly learning. I know, I know – we all make mistakes. But here is the thing – I don’t want to make a mistake on this one! Scripture tells us:
“They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.” Acts 2:45
“For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.” 2 Cor 8:3-4
“Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” 2 Cor. 9:13
Generosity isn’t a hundred dollar bill falling without thought out of a millionaire’s pocket. Generosity is any amount being given intentionally to someone in need out of the giver’s own need. We are defined by what we live out. I want to live out sacrificial, generous giving and loving. If I am going to stand up for something, I want to have the actions in my everyday life to say I really believe it. If I am going to give, I don’t want to just charge it to the credit card. That isn’t generous and just creates debt, but I can look at my life and say, “Okay, what can I give up?” Luckily God is patient when I indeed make mistakes, but I can make decisions to change. My families’ commitment to World Vision, Scripture, and the most vulnerable children is to change from “frugal” and “thrifty” to “sacrificial” and “generous.” I expect it to be uncomfortable, but I believe it to be freeing, joyful and full of worship. I’d love some others to join me (hint, hint) in hopes to nudge me along the way. Now that Women of Vision chapters have joined together on projects through World Vision’s Strong Women Strong World initiative, we have the chance to see huge changes in projects because we are multiplying our effect: raising voices and raising funds together.
by Anna Goodworth, WOV Hartford, CT