I just needed one thing: coffee creamer. We even let the Kroger cashier check us out to be quicker. But the nice, chatty older woman behind me couldn't let it be just that.
The girls were waiting patiently, playing the touch-as-many-candy-bars-as-you-can-and-ask-what-each-of them-are-called game. Of course one asked for one, and I gave them my standard look that reminded them their chances were better if they wished for a fairy.
The cat lady behind us would have none of it. (I'm not embellishing - her basket was filled with Fancy Feast.) "Oh, how sweet," she said. "Can I buy them one?"
"Oh, no - that's alright. They don't need it. But thank you for the offer," I politely responded.
We get nearly all the way through with our useless Kroger Plus points and I tell the girls to each grab a bag. Cat Lady looks at me again. "My son and grandkids are out in California. I never get to treat them to things like this." I gave some expression of sympathy that it stinks to live far from family and tried to move on.
She gave me The Look. Head tilted forward, eyes looking up, and she poked a thumb toward the candy rack. "Please?"
I told them that the generous woman behind us wanted them to each pick a piece of candy because she was so nice. They didn't have to be told twice. Though the did have to look at each candy bar repeatedly to ensure they were making the best decision. We left, candy in hand. I'm praying they don't start asking people behind us in line if they'll buy them a candy bar.
I really didn't want to let Cat Lady treat them. Mostly because we just had a weekend of indulgent eating and, as mentioned, I don't want them to think that strangers should just buy them something they want. (Is this an unrealistic fear?) But The Look trapped me - I couldn't say no. I neither wanted to be the person who was so uptight about sugar for her kids nor wanted to steal joy from an old woman who just wanted to be nice. So I caved.
To put it nicely, I would never do that. I would try. I would want to. I would intend to. But follow through? Psh.
My friends, and especially Cat Lady, are teaching me what I'm missing with my fist-clenched lifestyle: the joy of giving. Watching 2 little girls as their eyes light up selecting the perfect chocolate (ahem, Butterfinger) and knowing I was a part of that. I helped make that happen.
Perhaps I'm not generous because I've not practiced being generous. I don't know that beautiful feeling, so I falsely believe that keeping my own to myself brings the utmost gratification.
A friend of mine put on FB one time: Dear God: May I be generous to a fault. May I be so lavish in my generosity that people even consider me wasteful. Unreasonable. Imprudent. Because then, maybe they will get even a glimpse of how You have been toward me.
It caught me and stuck. Yes, that. What if I were to live as generously as God has been to me? What if I lived like I believed? I believe God to be generous, what if I lived like it were true? What would that look like?
I'm challenged to stop looking only at the bottom line. (Sure, the bottom line counts somewhere, but it's not the only question to be asked). Because I do believe in a God that transcends the Maths. He multiplies and divides and always has enough.