Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Shirt off My Back

Last Sunday night, I was convicted.  By a four year-old.

We were at a BBQ at a friend's house.  Being that my daughter seems to be magnetized to water no matter where she is, she found herself soaked after playing in the backyard.  I asked her if she wanted to change her clothes and then turned to Carter, her friend, and asked him, Can Hannah borrow a shirt from you since she got her dress all wet?

Sure! he said, and promptly started unbuttoning the shirt he had on.  Oh, no, no, Carter. I didn't mean the shirt you have on...just one from your drawer.

 His fingers paused and he gave me a quizzical look.  Oh, okay.  He headed toward his room to find one.

I know.  Awwww.  How sweet?  It was a cute story, one that we all laughed about as the children continued their playing and the adults continued their chatting.  But it's one of those stories that God used to start my heart churning about what it means to give.  Am I willing to give the shirt off my back?

What is the shirt off my back these days?  What are the truly sacrificial gifts that I can give?  Can I give them with joy?  Without a second thought?  Can I have the enthusiasm and sweetness of Carter, who was not concerned about what he would be left without?  (Although, I'd have to say, I'm sure as a little boy he could care less about what he was or wasn't wearing.)  Do I stop to ponder what I might receive in return or what I will lose if I choose to put another before me?

The other day I was asking a friend if she could keep one or both of my kids while I had surgery.  As we went back and forth making plans, I told her that I would love for her daughter to come spend the night at our house one night, too.  Her reply?  Of course!  That would be fun!  

But you don't owe me...

What was she trying to say?  She would take care of my children because she loves them?  That she values me?  That this is a gift that needs no reciprocity?


Back-to-back events that hit me on all sorts of levels -- How can I give more often without expecting something in return?  How can I accept that others choose to give me gifts with no strings attached?  And, on some level, do I still try to earn the love of Jesus, who gave me the ultimate gift of eternal life?  A gift that in no way would I ever be capable of earning? 

I am asking God to help me to view giving as He does, to help me find joy in all sacrifices, to stop keeping score or measuring on scales.

To be willing to give the shirt off my back, without pause.


  1. A good friend told me once, that she most often resolved conflict in her heart by deciding the person was more important than the problem. As I pondered it, I felt that the idea extended not only to the conflicts, but the things that are often at the heart of the conflict. So I tell my kids all the time, "People are more important than things!" It helps me to give more than I might have if I valued my things more than the people God puts in my life.

  2. Oh my - what a great lesson. We all need to learn to give joyously without looking for a payback. Holding what we have loosely is an important lesson, but we often look at material things as blessings, and we tend to try to hold on them them. Oh, to be like Job and really say 'the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord'!

  3. I think sometimes children see things more clearly than we do as adults. What a cute story.

    If you haven't had your surgery yet, I hope that it will go smoothly. Said a prayer for you.

  4. Great post! My best friend always tells me that I need to get better at just receiving help/blessings from others without feeling obligated to give something in return. She always says "Don't think of this as a favor, rather a gift!" I think we've all met people that have the mentality that when they do something for you, you "owe" them. I'd rather be more like your friend and mine and be the first to offer up whatever gift I can out of love, never expecting anything in return.

    Have a great weekend. You've given me lots to think about here today. :)


  5. Ah...sometimes that's really difficult isn't little kids to do something quite innocent that gives us pause.


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