Prone to give: Rethinking generosity

As I mentioned in my last post, there are countless things I’ve learned and observed and thought about connected to this move to Denver. One that I keep reflecting on is kindness and generosity.

I don’t relish the position of being in need. My fiercely independent, self-reliant, obsessive achiever personality would much rather carry my own burdens with time and effort to spare and share with others. But my meager abilities were no match for the mental, physical, and emotional work of making this move happen.

Thankfully, I have family and friends who helped.

Admittedly, their expressions of generosity might seem trivial to some. But in this stressful season (which I SEVERELY underestimated), they are monumental acts that I am grateful for: a thoroughly thoughtful going away party; carving out time for more good-bye dinners than I can count; coming over to help pack my kitchen or load the trailer; pursuing time with me after literally stepping off of a plane; multiple trips by my parents to help; prayers and words of encouragement throughout the journey; letting me crash in the guest room; notes and cards and gifts and emails and many, many other measures large and small that floor me if I think on them too long.

I’m grateful for friends and family who put love into practice, even by sharing nothing but their time over a meal. For many of them, their kindness wasn’t convenient. We’re all busy people with a mile-long to-do list. Being the only non-family member loading up the trailer isn’t exactly what someone gets excited about doing on a Monday night, particularly when they aren’t all that jazzed about me leaving in the first place. (Thanks again, Jeff!)

All of this has me thinking about generosity and the ways in which I show it to others. I wonder whether I demonstrate acts of generosity that are most convenient for me–not necessarily most beneficial to the one in need. I think true generosity comes at a cost to the giver. It takes a toll. There’s a price to be paid even if it’s small. We pay the price because we want to and because we can and because it’s needed. And I want to be willing to pay that price, because I know what it’s like to be a beneficiary.

Perhaps it takes being in the humble position of needing grace to know what it means to share it.

Photo by Stewardship/CC BY

Prone to go: Welcome to colorful Colorado!

Winter Park, ColoradoToday marks one week that I’ve been in Colorado. It’s an admission that’s both surreal and oddly familiar. Someone asked recently whether it had “hit me” yet that I’m living in Colorado. Honestly, I’m not sure it has, and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

There have been so many things that I wanted to write about and share since my last blog post “announcing” this move, but this protracted season of transition has left little time or mental margin to sit down and think some thoughts and write them out. Now that I finally feel like I’m coming up for air after packing, saying good-byes, moving, unpacking, and generally living life like an extrovert for more weeks than I can count, I’m starting to put coherent thoughts together once again. Yay!

As I’ve been unpacking here in Colorado, I’ve found a few thoughtful notes wishing me well (and wishing that I would return) tucked away in boxes from two friends who helped me pack up my kitchen. Jonathan and Lyndsey helped me pack up on one of my last nights at my house. And it’s a good thing, too, since I had severely underestimated the time required to pack my kitchen. I’d likely still be packing were it not for them.

Their notes got me thinking back several weeks to the time I was packing up the boxes that I’m now unloading 1800 miles from home.

It was a surreal experience to see the place I’ve lived for 5 years completely empty. It was the first home that I owned, and I’m incredibly grateful for and proud of that experience. The last day in town, the day before I closed on the sale, I was moving out a few final things and decided to take a little walk around the place.

I walked through the empty rooms, remembering things in each one: the meals shared around the kitchen table, the parties hosted in the living room, the video we filmed, the dogs that stayed there a few times, the roommates in the front bedroom, the friends who helped me paint the office, the ONE TIME I used the fire pit on the patio in the span of 5 years.

When I bought the townhouse, I prayed that if God was blessing me with a home, then it would be a blessing to other people. I hope that’s been true. But more than that, I know it’s been a place that has grown me and shaped me, not because of the structure or the walls or the doors, but because of the people there, the conversations shared, and the memories made over the years.

I wrote a note to the new owner, telling her how excited I was that she had purchased my home, and how much it had meant to me. I told her that it had been a space of laughter and fun, and I hoped the same would be true for her and her family.

Then I turned around, setting sail for new adventures, and left the place that will always and never be home.