Blogger: Wendy Lawton
It’s Christmastime and I can’t help but think about the frenzy of getting gifts for those we love. And even for those we feel we “must” gift. We often ask many questions in order to get just the right gift and we make sure a tag is firmly attached to each package so our recipient will know how much thought went into choosing that gift.
But what about secret giving?
My Dad was diagnosed with cancer during my last year of high school. He died just before my graduation. It devastated our family, especially my mom, a widow in her forties with seven children/ foster children and precious few resources. I had already planned to go away to college, and my mother insisted we keep things moving forward. She figured we’d manage it somehow. My counselors at school scurried to get financial aid for me, and by September, I packed my things and headed off to school with little more than change in my pockets. It was a scary time.
Money was so tight I had no idea how I would make it. That first Christmas, before school let out for break, I received a letter in my mail cubby in the dorm. It had no return address. Inside was a blank piece of paper wrapped around a twenty-dollar bill and a five-dollar bill. I don’t remember why I needed it so badly that exact moment, but I do remember bursting into tears. It made all the difference in the world to me at that time. I wracked my brain trying to figure out who had sent that gift. I never did solve the mystery, but those envelopes came three or four times each year I was in college–always just when I needed it most.
To this day I have no idea who my secret benefactor was, but he or she changed my life. Not because of the money or the belief in me, though that was no small thing. I learned firsthand the power of anonymous giving. It’s something of which the world has so little understanding. There’s a verse about this: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1-3). My mysterious giver must have known that verse.
Because of this giver, my challenge has been to pass it on whenever I can. At Christmastime, most of us give and receive gifts that are given with great fanfare. I challenge you to find at least one way to practice secret giving. It’s not too late to take up this habit before 2016 tiptoes away.
My secret gift was a monetary gift but I know many of you secretly encourage other writers. You buy their books and salt public areas with their bookmarks. You anonymously post reviews. You talk about your writing friend to your editor or agent. So many secret gifts.
Have you had an anonymous angel in your life? Have you found any innovative ways to “pay it forward?” By sharing, you’ll help to inspire our giving.