The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. From The Message, Proverbs 11:24
When we were newlyweds I told my husband that he had better be good to me or I’d run home to his mother.
Why? Because his mother was one of the kindest and most loving individuals I have ever encountered. Mary Elizabeth was the epitome of generosity with her time, her caring skills, and her financial resources. She never hesitated to give because she didn’t think they could afford to do so; she just opened her purse and gave because she believed it was important to meet a need whenever she could.
In The Generosity Path, Mark Ewert quotes Parker Palmer, Founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal, as saying, “I think the biggest block to finding generosity of spirit in one’s own life is never to have had it modeled for you, so you don’t even know what it looks like.”
Some people, like Mary Elizabeth, were born with a generous spirit and raised in a home where that was allowed to flourish. Others learn to be that way by following the example of those whose lives are role models for the rest of us.
Mary Elizabeth was a private duty nurse who worked the night shift, got home in time to feed the family breakfast, slept while Dave and his sister were in school, and then got up in time to welcome them home. She focused her time and attention on her family, her patients, her friends, her neighbors and the countless young people she mentored through working with youth groups at her church. Her world continued to expand as she freely gave all those who crossed her path what they needed.
She taught young women homemaking skills and how, when they became parents, to raise their children with a sense of responsibility for their community and the world. When there was an accident or serious illness she would care for others without any thought of remuneration; it was what she loved doing. She served her Lord by serving others and was more generous with her time and caring than anyone I have ever met.
I believe Parker Palmer was absolutely right when he said that without a role model it is hard to develop a spirit of generosity. And I would add that anyone can be a mentor. Generosity begins with caring about the needs of others more than our own. As you do so you will find your world getting larger and larger, while the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
Blessings on your efforts to become more generous,