Lessons from Dad: The Law of Giving

Lessons from Dad: The Law of Giving

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”  -Anne Frank

As we all sat around the dining room table, minus only my oldest brother’s family, my dad informed us that he had two topics we needed to discuss.  First, this matter of Little Miss Fire Cracker, crowned every 4th of July in Gas City.  My mother declared that she’s already retired a champion, as she entered my baby brother 15 years ago and won, and entered my oldest niece six years ago and won.  (Please don’t think my family is a feature story for Toddlers and Tiaras, it’s just a local pageant that no one puts in fake teeth for, I promise.)  But along came Emerson October, with her naturally curly hair and bubbling personality.  She loves to sing and dance and most of all, be the center of attention.  Some of it comes from her parents; some of it comes from her “Joy Gene” (Williams Syndrome).  Dad thinks she’s a shoo-in to win.  This hurled us into a long, drawn-out discussion that moved rapidly from one topic to another, rarely resting long enough to draw any conclusion on any one matter, and finally ending with the whole family being aghast that my grandmother chooses under as opposed to over for her toilet paper roll.  As she was not there to defend herself, we were left to our own imaginations to speculate as to why.

Calling us to refocus, Dad decided we would revisit the Little Miss Fire Cracker topic at a later date, and he addressed his second issue:  The Law of Giving.  Using the Law of Gravity as his example for “law”, Dad explained that if you jump off a mountain, you have the choice to believe whatever you want.  It’s your right.  You may follow a set of beliefs that denies the existence of gravity, and you’re welcome to follow them.  But when you’re on your way down, your personal beliefs become irrelevant; the Law of Gravity holds true, believe it or not.  Or take for instance, the agricultural law of sowing and reaping.  Any farmer or first grader can tell you that whatever you plant, you’ll grow.  Green beans do not grow where you plant corn.  Apple trees do not spring up in grape vineyards.   And how about the Golden Rule, or as Dad calls it, the Golden Law?  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It’s a bit more abstract, but holds just as true.  The way you treat other people will affect the way you are treated.  Dad says that giving is the same way.

If you give decide in your heart how much to give, and don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure, then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.  He says it’s a law; believe it or not.  He gave us several examples of how he’s seen this law work in his own life.  And he wasn’t just talking about money.  Time, energy, talent, expertise.  Give joyfully and stand back and watch the harvest roll in.  Sound a little too supernatural?  Fair enough, but I venture that almost everyone has experienced that warm fuzzy feeling when you give a gift to a child, knowing that they can’t give a gift back to you, enjoying that glow on their face more than any amount of money.  It’s better to give than to receive, as the old saying goes.  In those moments, we know it’s true.  In those moments, we know it’s the law.

Dad’s speech was not a specific call to action.  There was no project, church, or cause that he was trying to get us all to write a check to.  He was simply doing what dads do best, sharing the knowledge he’s gained as an older and wiser person, hoping to influence our thoughts and actions with truth.  But it made me think.  (A dangerous pastime, I know.)  If that truly is the law, and it truly is better to give than it is to receive, then why don’t I give more?  I can.  I should.  I don’t. 

The return is immeasurable when I give my time to my church to work with the youth.  And the little bit of money I send to help support my dear missionary friend, who works with orphans in Ukraine, is minuscule compared to the joy I feel being a part of her team.  My parents taught us how to give as we were growing up, and I’ve never wanted for anything.  Though I’ve had to work hard, I’ve had the strength.  I’ve had to live frugally at times, but I’ve never had to do without anything I’ve needed.  I don’t always get what I want, but that cup of coffee is not worth suspending my Compassion child sponsorship over.  All of these things are marinating in my mind as I formulate my own call to action.

Father knows best.  And I have a wonderful vantage point to watch the Law of Giving play out.  Almost every day, people come into the office, smile at me, and write a check.  They’re excited to give because they understand the law.  Some give of their wealth, others give of their poverty, but all give because they know that it’s better to give than to receive.  They understand that over 250 students will receive scholarships this year and have the opportunity to go to college, an opportunity they may not have otherwise.  They understand that because they give, children will have the occasion to experience new and amazing things they’d never dreamed of.  They understand that the best way to ensure the legacy of their loved one lives on, is to establish a memorial that gives back to the community around them.  They’re all law-abiding citizens. 

As I walked home from my parents’ house last night, I mused over what had been discussed.  From tiaras, to toilet paper, to universal laws, it all left me in a thoughtful mood.  I’m not sure I’ve reached any conclusion on the tiaras and toilet paper issues, and perhaps I never will, but Dad’s talk about giving gives me a great opportunity to examine myself and examine the law.  And so, I pass on the opportunity to you.  Are you doing unto others as you would have them do unto you?  Are you reaping what you’re sowing?   Are you giving and receiving?  Is it truly better?  I believe, like gravity, the Law of Giving holds true.  I’m not going to jump off any mountains to prove it, but I am going to keep giving and enjoy the blessings it will inevitably bring.

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