Our youngest son’s wife saw a need in our family. She sensed that one of her husband’s sisters, our daughter, was in need of coming home and being loved on. She initiated a plan to get her sister-in-law and family here from 3/4 of a continent away. She arranged for tickets, offered her own home for all six of them to stay, and hosted a party for family and friends that none of us will ever forget. Did I mention she has two pre-schoolers and a job?! In “How to Be Happier in 2018 Part 1” I talked about attitudes in regards to money that can contribute to our happiness. But money is only a part of each person’s wealth. Our possessions, such as our homes, offer possibilities for making others happy, and ourselves happy as a result. This recent family event demonstrates using our material assets for the good of others. When was the last time I was brave enough to host six extra people in my house?! Or throw a party for 20? Or make it possible for a weary one to get re-charged by time with family?
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
Although selfishness is my default, God’s kingdom is fueled by generosity. When I’m generous, I’m behaving like a citizen of God’s kingdom. His kingdom runs on a different economy than earthly kingdoms. We are constantly bombarded with philosophies that promote self, not service. Getting, not giving. When we refuse to buy into these philosophies, we are proving that we belong to a different kingdom, and we will receive rewards in that kingdom that will surpass anything we could have amassed for ourselves. And during the here-and-now, we are happier when we give.
“You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed (happy-making) to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
We also have responsibility for using non-material assets we’ve been given. God gifts each person with abilities for the benefit of those around them. I benefit others and others benefit me so all of us have what we need. I keep asking myself, “What can I do today for someone who needs what I’m equipped to give?” I feel my first responsibility is to provide what I can for my husband, then my family. I am also responsible to contribute to my faith community and to anyone God brings across my path that I can do good to whether friend or stranger. Being part of something bigger and contributing is happy-making. Note to self: I’m not equipped to provide everything to everybody.
“But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it . . . This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” I Corinthians 12:18,25,27
So how does this play out for me? I could make a whole pile of excuses such as, “I’m just one person who isn’t young, rich, beautiful, influential or a genius. What could I possibly contribute?” But I hear God saying, “You now have a lifetime of experiences that could benefit others if you’d take the time to earn the right to speak into their lives. You are richer than most of the world and you have all you need. Is it too much to ask you to give a little to those with less? Physical beauty goes away as you know, but keep cultivating the inner beauty of gentleness because that’s what I value. No, I haven’t given you the responsibility of leading thousands, or hundreds. But I have given you some influence in the lives of those in your small circle- your friends, your family, your clients. You are not a genius, but since when did intellectual acuity become the qualification for serving others?”
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” I Corinthians 12:4-7
So I keep plugging away each week writing in this blog the lessons God is teaching me in everyday life. Every time I sit down at my computer, I battle that Negative Nellie who tells me that I have nothing to share that hasn’t already been shared by others who are much more gifted than I. But then I hear the quiet whisper that reminds me altho that is true, no one else is me. No one else has had my experiences or has my small circle of influence. Perhaps one of my readers who trusts me needs to hear some particular truth from me this week, not from some famous teacher they don’t know personally. Perhaps one of my readers didn’t open her Bible this week, but out of loyalty to me, she reads my blog and there a Scripture speaks to her. What God is looking for in his servants is faithfulness. I simply show up at my computer. “Here I am, Lord. I’ve shown up. You’ll have to take it from here.” Where are you faithfully showing up? If you’re a mom of young children, I know you’re faithfully getting up each morning and caring for your children even if the night was long and the sleep was short. If you’re the parent of teens and beyond, you’re faithfully praying for them even though you may not see answers yet. If you’re caring for a loved one who can’t care for themselves, you’re faithfully doing what needs to be done in spite of the tedium and loneliness that may be bearing down on you. Keep showing up for your family because God will meet you there. He shows up when we do. And there is peace and happiness where He is.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” Matthew 25:21
Every day I plug away at improving my skills in photography and business. I watch innumerable tutorials online. I practice daily with my camera and in PhotoShop. The results are usually discouraging, particularly in the business realm. But determination and hard work go farther than raw talent and innate ability. Where are you showing up in your work? Do you go to a job every day that you dislike, but for the sake of providing for your family, you persevere? Are you retired, but you’re using your time to invest in others even when they disappoint you? Jesus loves to show up in those hard places. In the sweetness of his Presence, there is strength, and yes, happiness.
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” I Corinthians 4:2
Share what you have- both material assets and abilities
Notice the generosity of others and follow their example in your own way
Keep faithfully showing up in your responsibilities