(This blog post is a collation of reflections from this year on what it means to receive generosity as a way for us to be more fully opened to God and His work within us all.)
I have always had a love/hate relationship with generosity. It has been a value instilled within me from early on by my belovéd father, who was such a very generous man – in any area he could be. He was very intentional about teaching us about our duty to those who have less than we have, and I am so grateful to him for it.
However, the “other side of generosity” has always troubled me. To give and share what I have comes relatively naturally to me. To receive, though; that I have always found incredibly difficult – even to the point of stubbornly suppressing my own needs so as not to appear in need.
I know there is a pride issue at stake here. I can be fiercely independent; and I don’t like relying on other people for help. I often believe the lie that says receiving from others makes me weak, unworthy, or even lazy.
I’m aware that some of it also flows from my personality. I have discovered over the course of my adult life that I was designed to be a counsellor (my statement of faith of God’s work in making me who I am). It is built into me at the same level that having two arms is – it’s who I am. The inherent risk, though, in someone with this kind of natural predisposition is that we can tend to become overly other focused. In short, we can develop a ‘saviour complex’. This is helpful within a well-defined counselling context (the other focus – not the ‘saviour complex’), but when applied generally to life creates an unhealthy relational balance where one is always giving and then always building walls around oneself that keeps help from others out.
I have seen the effects of this in my own life, and it took the drastic step into our current family journey to begin to put an end to my belief in this lie. Bluntly, this lie states, “everyone else needs your help, but you don’t need theirs”. It is a lie, I repeat, it is a lie!
Again, I cannot overstate the work God had to do within my heart for me to be ready to receive this kind of financial partnership. It was an incredibly difficult decision for me, one which has humbled me greatly – a humbling I realise I was in desperate need of. I realise I carried this ridiculous classist notion, where I believed myself better than others and so would not rely on them for assistance. You see something similar in the abusive racial overtones of the continuing perpetuation of the ‘white-man’s guilt complex’, which has so damaged our country. To offer help to others is a marvelous and honouring thing to do. To do so because you believe yourself a better class of human – that is a lie from the pit of hell.
So we began three years ago to rely on the kindness and generosity of others to meet our needs. It was a big ask, and not one we took lightly. I don’t think I overstate it when I say that it can be a genuinely embarrassing experience to receive from others that which you cannot provide for your self. It raises within me all sorts of questions as to my worth, intelligence and ability to be successful. However, we are sure that God asked me not to find a job, not to chase a salary, but to go out and serve those that can’t afford what I have to offer. His promise was that He would provide for our family through His people.
One of our consistent prayers in 2018 has been that we would stabilise financially as a family. This has yet to be granted, and I wonder, upon reflection at the closing of the year, whether the lesson of learning to receive generosity from others is meant to continue for a while still. Perhaps God is not willing for us to recede to our previous position of isolated self-sufficiency?
And so, we will continue to press on in the desire to be faithful to what God has called us to. Please pray for us in this journey? The pressure to just throw in the towel and join the rat-race can be somewhat overwhelming at times – and we need your support to help us finish this race.
Thank you to everyone who has partnered with us in so many different ways this year. You have shown us Jesus and His lavish generosity and grace through your words and actions. May God bless you enormously in response!
We love you!