By Martina Casey
If you are like me, you received at least a couple of solicitations for GivingTuesday. Started in 2011 as Cyber Giving Monday it was moved to Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2012, #givingtuesday was created to offset the “commercialization and consumerism” of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
In addition to a monetary donation on #givingtuesday or any day of the year, there are three other very specific ways to be generous. Let’s take a look at the four T’s of generosity and how you could use each to bring Jesus to others:
T is for Time. Work, school, life and before you know it, it’s bedtime. How much time do you have for others? And I don’t mean in the regular course of your day. I’m talking about the visit to the nursing home or volunteering at a soup kitchen? If you find yourself frazzled, especially during this Christmas season, remember to ask the Author of time for help. Our time is valuable, and like anything else, in the hands of our Lord it can be transformed.
T is for Talent. Are you gifted musically? Do you have a penchant for cooking? Are you a chatter-box? Though maybe not apparent at first, all of us have been gifted with something. How do you share your talent? We don’t have to be Matt Maher to use our musical talent for Jesus. You could play your guitar at the local nursing home, or as a chatter-box, go and spend some time with its residents. Or how about baking some cookies for a neighbor?
T is for Treasure. This isn’t just about money, though giving it away in some way is an absolute necessity. Remember the Parable of the Rich Fool from Luke 12:18, where the “rich fool” is tearing down and building bigger barns to store all his amassed surplus grain. And what does Jesus say: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’”
As a mom my precious treasure are my children. Do I share them with others whose treasure they are also? When my in-laws visit do I back off and allow them to spend time with them even if that means acquiescing to my mother-in-laws parenting philosophy different from my own? Find the treasures in your life and think about how you can share them for the glory of God.
T is for Touch. Arguably the most underrated of the four, I mean, it’s just a hug, right? According to research we need 12 hugs per day to thrive, and apparently hugs lower stress hormone like cortisol. I’m a hugger, but as a woman I have to be mindful that hugs are, after all, an intimate way of letting others know I care. Sometimes I have to reel in my hugging enthusiasm because of cultural boundaries or simply because they may send the wrong message.
Mixed messages and cultural boundaries aside, the point is this: your hug or gentle touch may be the only warmth that someone has received that week, month or months. St. Mother Teresa said that the most terrible poverty is loneliness.
In our country this is most true, especially when it comes to the elderly. Before my kids were born I spent some time volunteering at a nursing home and I made it a habit to ask before going in for a hug: “can I give you a hug,” or “do you mind if I hug you?” I don’t remember if or how many rejections I’ve gotten, I must have gotten a few, but that’s okay. I suppose the whole point in asking is that we are respecting the other person’s boundaries for touch. This Advent I challenge you to give 12 hugs every day, it can be to the same person multiple times a day. Go ahead, be a weirdo for Jesus.
Until next time, may the Lord give us the grace to be Jesus in every interaction this Advent and always.
St. Mother Teresa pray for us.