I don’t remember what Lindsey bought herself with the first $14 of her $15 in Christmas money.
But I’ll never forget what she did with the last dollar.
Shortly before Christmas, each of our children received $15 cash from a beloved aunt and uncle who live nearby. Naturally, each of the four older children had plans for the money. Ellie wanted to save hers toward a video game she’s been wanting. The other three all had particular toys they wanted, and they asked me to take them to Wal-Mart to buy their chosen items.
We had fun shopping together, and Kenny, Lindsey and Jessica spent their money. Kenny and Jessica gave their money to me, and I purchased their toys along with the other things I was buying. Lindsey, however, wanted to pay for hers herself, and she did so. She then took her dollar in change and her toy, and we all headed for the doors.
A few yards from the exit, I heard Lindsey say, “Oh, I know what to do with my last dollar!”
I turned to see her grabbing the dollar from her purse and folding it up. She stood facing a 3-foot-tall metal and plastic container with a sign on it announcing that donations would go to the children’s hospital in our area. The children and I are familiar with this container and its purpose; they love putting coins in it and watching the coins spiral downward through the funnel and into the bottom of the bin.
This time, as I watched, Lindsey stuffed her dollar into the slot in the container made for that purpose. “There!” she said happily, ready to go now.
I gave her a hug. “That was kind,” I said quietly.
I was overwhelmed at the generosity of Lindsey’s sweet heart. And I knew that had I been in her position, with only a dollar left in money I could spend on whatever I wanted, I would not have given it away. Yet she did, and it made her happy.
That’s the kind of girl she is. She is happiest when doing something for others. And I wonder … am I that kind of mom? Am I happiest when doing something for my children?
Sometimes, the answer is no. Often, I’m happiest when I get to surf Facebook without interruption or when I get a good night’s sleep—not when I give of myself in order to meet my children’s needs. When I have extra time and sleep and fun—not when I give my last dollar of energy, creativity and stamina.
Why is that? If it really is more blessed to give than to receive, as Jesus said, why is it so easy for us as moms to be happiest when we’re receiving instead of giving?
It’s because we look for happiness in the wrong place.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to have free time to do with as we wish. And all moms need physical rest and time to mentally and emotionally recharge. There’s nothing wrong with desiring those things.
Where we go wrong is when we think those are the things that will bring us the greatest happiness.
You see, when Jesus said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive, He meant that true happiness isn’t found in receiving things for others but in pouring ourselves out on others’ behalf.
I’m not really sure where we got the idea that serving others can’t make us happy, unless that idea came from Satan. Granted, the service itself may not be fun or exciting, but we can choose to be happy anyway. If we buy into the idea that true happiness will primarily come not when we’re fulfilling God’s plan—serving our children—but when they leave us alone, we’re making a serious mistake with long-term consequences.
Moms, I don’t entirely understand how this works yet. I’m still working it out in my own life. But I do know that I believe what Jesus said—and that if what He said is true, which it is, some of my attitudes need to change.
What about you?
Mark 10:45—“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Acts 20:35—In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “