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By Anonymous | 17 May 2013 | Comments (1)

The Art of Giving - #awkward

This blog is part 5 in The Art of Giving email series. Want to sign up to receive all ten emails for free? Enter your email address here.


 So you think receiving’s difficult? Sometimes, there is nothing more awkward than giving a gift to someone!

“Should I sneak it under their door?”  “Will they feel really awkward that I know they’re struggling?”  “Will they feel like a charity case?”  Aaaargh!

As someone who has often been inspired to share my possessions with others (Acts 4:32-36), I’ve often grappled with this issue.

I remember pulling up outside a friend’s house. Actually it wasn’t their house – they’d been in house-sit after house-sit for a couple of years because they didn’t own a home and their ministry was one of living by faith.  I knew times were hard and they hadn’t made it to church that evening. We’d felt gutted when we heard they were having a hard time but we weren’t sure what to do as there weren’t many shops open on a Sunday evening. We’d gone round to my mother-in-law’s and she’d found a number of food items she didn’t need, and then we’d popped by the only open shop we could find to grab some bacon, eggs, bread and milk. Now we were sitting outside in the car, with our hamper, debating.

Should we go in and say hi? Maybe they needed a hug and encouraging/praying with? Hmmm, they hadn’t come to church so maybe it wasn’t a day for seeing people… Should we leave this stuff on the doorstep so that it was out all night when they might need it now? Should we ring the doorbell and drive off?

We agonised for a good while in the car before we worked out we should just pray. On previous occasions we’d felt it was good to ring the doorbell, give hugs, have a cup of tea and just be with them in their tough time… This time we just left it on the doorstep, prayed for them, and asked God to prompt them to open the door. With slight reservations from our ‘human wisdom mind-sets’, we left it and drove off.

The next morning we got a text. They’d discovered the parcel before bed and had had their first meal of the day: bacon, eggs, toast etc – just what they’d needed.

It still breaks my heart thinking of it. The stuff we gave was really simple – we didn’t have the resource to get anything fancy on a Sunday evening – but it was the delivery that felt really important that time.

Sometimes friends really need to know you’re there and you care and that they’re part of a family. Sometimes, we’ve got it really wrong and have squirmed as we’ve watched friends squirm. Sometimes we’ve realised that our motives weren’t actually right just as we handed over the gift and felt a slight nagging feeling when the reaction wasn’t what we’d expected. Sometimes we’ve seen relationships change and good friends start viewing us in a weird way that neither of us seemed to be able to vocalise and get past. Occasionally, we’ve found friends have been grateful and have felt embarrassed that they can’t give something in return, even though we feel they give us loads in other ways. Often, we’ve found it so much easier to slip an anonymous card through the door and rest assured that the person would know that God is their provider and has heard their cry for provision.

But, every now and then, we’ve been absolutely blown away when we’ve prayed about how to give and have modelled generosity and God’s economy well. I’m still not entirely sure what the rules are – maybe there are none – but we’ve generally found that God knows what each person needs and if you allow him to test your motives and prompt you about how to handle each gift, it really can bless both the receiver and the giver!

The challenge:

What parts of this post could you relate to? Are you used to that awkward feeling when you give a gift, or have you nailed how to read situations?  Do you ever give in a way that could make you, and your recipient, uncomfortable? If your answer’s no, is that a good or a bad thing? Let us know in the comments.


Jo Millar

May 23, 2013 6:15 AM
I so agree with this article!
I have been discouraged about giving for various reasons: not wanting to embarrass or read the situation wrong are some things. But for a long time the biggest discouragement to giving has been the idea that it is bad to create dependency or the expectation of being rescued. But then I ended up doing nothing- not right either! I finally decided I should pray for God to lead and help me love the person, and then go ahead as best I can. As you say, God knows each individual case, and He knows me. And if I get it wrong, that's still better than doing nothing. Recently, as well as giving another food parcel (awkwardly and unsure if I 'should' be) I got brave and asked if I could help with budgeting (appropriate for this particular case). The person was delighted, and we are both learning LOTS through it. And I feel like I am being part of something God is pleased with. Stepping through the awkwardness seems a necessary step on the path of trying to love God and others.

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