Shame- “a painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness, or disgrace.” (thefreedictionary.com) Yup. That’s what it is. Shameful.
I started this week strong. Cleaning out my closet. It leveled me. Why? Because I am embarrassed by how many things I had in my closet that were just sitting there, unused. Things that could have been being used by someone else, had I not recognized sooner that I didn’t need or wouldn’t use those things. Some things I never used at all; other things I used once or twice and then, content they were in my possession, tucked them away never to be used again. Shameful.
The point was driven home a few days later when I pulled out a few “collector’s edition” dolls I had in that closet. They had been sitting there so long I couldn’t even remember when I got them. I was debating what to do with them when a friend invited me to her church’s version of Craig’s list. People were not only posting things they had to sell or give away; but they were also posting ISO(in search of) comments. The first one to catch my eye was someone looking for the type of dolls I had. I knew right away what to do. I told her I had a few I’d be happy to give her and would even drive over to the other side of town to bring them to her. She offered to pay but I refused. This week is about giving away. I am embarrassed to admit I did think about a low price, after all I could use the money right now…but isn’t that the point of a fast? To make it about doing without?
At any rate she met me at the appointed time and again offered to pay me. Again I declined. I told her that knowing that the child would love them is all I needed to hear. She then told me how the child was the daughter of a single mom, who couldn’t really afford to buy the little girl these dolls. Again shame came knocking. A single mom. Someone working so hard just to make ends meet and I had these dolls just sitting there.
I got back in my car and wrestled with my shame for part of the drive home. And then I stopped. Then I chose to be thankful. I thanked the Lord for using me to bring those dolls to that precious little girl. I thanked the Lord for opening my eyes to how careless I had become about what I bought, and how little I was giving away. Proverbs 13:18 says, “Poverty and shame will come to him who neglects discipline, but he who regards reproof will be honored.” I had been neglectful. This was my reproof. And I choose to be thankful for it.
The gal to whom I gave the dolls sent me the sweetest picture of the happy little girl with her new dolls. I would post it, but she’s not my little girl and I wouldn’t want to do that without the mom’s permission. (The picture I used above was from an online free photo site.)
At the end of this week of giving, I was able to give away 70 items (instead of the required 49). It’s so easy to keep going once you start. It’s freeing. And best of all, when you take the time to deliver things to people directly, you get the opportunity to hear about the struggling single moms and their precious little girls. That motivation alone makes it worth it, and makes it easy to continue giving. I know I have only begun. I have a lot more giving to do before my place reflects a more appropriate scale of possessions. Once again, my mind has latched onto a more conscious way of living…by giving. I will be mindful when I do purchase something. I will remember the difference between needs and wants. I will give more freely and be slow to possess.
For the coming week of The 7 Challenge, the fast will be from media. The challenge is to abstain from TV, Gaming, Facebook/Twitter/Social Media, iPhone apps, Radio, Textings, and Internet. Begin panic attack. No, no…I know I can do it. My first thought is, “Wow, it’s gonna be a boring week.” My second thought is, “Wow, how am I gonna get people to NOT text me?”
Facebook I can go without for a week. TV isn’t hard at all since I don’t get regular TV or cable. Gaming I never do except with my nephews and I’m so pathetically bad at it that it’s often easier for them to play without me anyway. iPhone apps…that one is harder. But I’ll live. Radio….ouch, owie…ugh. I don’t have the radio on except when in the car, but I LOVE my car radio…I sing in the car. Loudly. I always have. So, I guess I’ll be singing a cappella for a week. Texting…I’ll be happy to go without, but it’s become the preferred route of communication for so many with whom I communicate that getting them to not text me will be a challenge. (So hear ye, hear ye…those of you who text me….if you do so, starting tomorrow for 7 days…I will be calling you back instead of texting you back. Be prepared, and don’t get mad.) The internet…aye, there’s the rub. No researching for fun (I’m a nerd), no Hulu, no blogs, no art or travel sites. (sigh). Ok…it’s gotta hurt for it to count. And it’s only 7 days. I’ll live.
This week is about more than tuning out…it’s also about tuning in. Instead of replacing the above media items with thumb twiddling and reading until my eyes are crossed, Jen Hatmaker also challenges me to connect with the people in my life. I live alone…so that’ll be a challenge. But it’s on! Let’s see what I learn this coming week.