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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spring Cleaning

This morning, after hearing a particularly meaningful testament on the importance of tithing in our lives, I considered what I have to give. 

“Nothing,” I thought. “There's nothing I have that I don't need or use.”

Boy, was I mistaken. It took only a moment to realize that, just yesterday, I gave a neighbor something really simple - a length of vinyl-coated, light duty cable dog leash. I found it weeks ago at a campsite along the lake not far from my home.

"Maybe I'll need this someday," I thought, though I might've known better. Sophie, my trusty service dog never runs away, unless she's running with me, so the need I imagined never materialized.

Anyhow, giving something away I'd be unlikely to ever use anyway didn't seem that big of a deal. I didn't think much of it, either, until I considered it's real value to my neighbor.

If you've ever been camping in Colorado in late May, or anytime, for that matter, you're not surprised when a winter storm blows through and makes all those seventy degree days from last week feel like ancient history.

Those are the times when the propane that fuels our furnaces becomes invaluable to us. 

Well, my neighbor had once suffered the loss of a sorely needed propane tank before, as a boy camping with his family.

He remembered shivering all night, and he resolved then and there it'd never happen again.

Although the cable I gave him wasn't meant to prevent anything from being taken, I could tell when he thanked me that the peace of mind it brought him was as much a gift to me as the cable was to him.

It makes me chuckle to think that I had the thought that “one day, I might find a use for that cable myself,” even though it sat, neatly coiled up beneath my camper.

But what I didn't realize at the time was that I did find a use for that cable; I gave it to my neighbor. The metaphor of that one, seemingly simple act was not lost on me; giving is an act from which all parties benefit.

You've heard of buyer’s remorse, right? Well, I've felt like a consistent sufferer of seller's remorse. “Man,” I'd think, “I coulda got way, way more money when I sold that (fill in the blank) if only I'd asked for more.

But there's an insidious, built-in, two-fold mechanism at work in my thinking here.

First, saying that I should have asked for more not only cheapens my memory of having sold something to someone fair and square, but it cheapens the transaction itself.

Instead of making a positive deal with somebody, a sort of dark cloud came over it in my mind, turning it into something that felt somehow tainted.

“I'm so na├»ve,” I'd think, “how could I let myself get taken like that?” Or, “That guy knew what he was doing all along-I fell for some slick-talkin’, fast-walkin’ crook!”

You might already see where this is leading.

The second aspect of this is easy enough to remember, for it's best known as second-guessing. These thoughts pull a built-in trigger for an onslaught of self-criticism.

Any question I ask myself that begins “How could you have…?” automatically qualifies as one likely to end with some sort of harsh, inwardly pointed judgment.”

But after hearing Dr. Roger’s message this morning, it all became clear -the subject of tithing, that is, not All all!. Tithing needn't be of a financial sort, but can occur in a multitude of ways.

However many things you might give, or moments of your time, or heartfelt, thoughtful words etc., are simple, daily tithings I've been giving all along.

But, then I remember-drawing strength from the things I'm capable of giving everyday is actually the very basis of the contract I've made with my world.

In fulfillment of that contract I give of myself to others, like donating clothes or shoes or food, or recycling anything that still has a purpose, or my time and attention. It's what I do because I can, and I want to.

That, I now realize, is a form of tithing, and an infinitely rewarding one at that.

Just a little something to keep in mind during spring cleaning this year. 

One other thing - while outgrown or unwanted or needed consumer items have their place, I think the tithing Dr. Roger is referring to is actually the financial kind!

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