With Easter approaching, compounded with recent tragedies and ongoing hunger and poverty around the world, I have been stricken with the conviction to give. Our family isn't in a great financial position, so its going to be difficult in that respect. Its hard to have the heart to give, yet feel like, practically-speaking, its just not that simple.
As an extention of this, I have also been realizing more and more just how spoiled American kids, and certainly my own kids, are in comparison to the rest of the world. In comparison to other American children, my kids live modestly. However, in comparison to 95% of other kids around the world, my kids are living in the lap of luxury. My kids get to eat delicious, healthy food, and never go to school or to bed hungry. My kids have an overabundance of toys and games and things to stimulate their minds and bodies. They are up on their immunizations and can visit a doctor regularly to keep them from disease and death. They live in a safe, comfortable house with indoor heat and plumbing. They are able to bathe and wear a fresh set of clean clothes everyday. My kids have so many things the rest of the world's kids undoubtedly live in envy of! Yet my kids are unaware and only want "more, more, more," because that is the culture they are living in.
My kids are excited for Easter, and the Easter presents they will be recieving. And as a parent, I am looking forward to being able to bless them that way and watch their sweet little faces light up with excitement. However, the very thought of my kids getting more stuff just makes me feel overwhelmingly guilty! I have joined the World Vision fan page on Facebook, and everyday, I see pictures of kids all around the world who won't be getting more "stuff" for Easter; kids who's only wants are a safe home, clean clothes, sufficient food, a family income... And I put myself in their parents' shoes....how horrible would it feel not to be able to provide basic necessities to your own children?
So now I am thinking... Maybe we'll make Easter more about giving than getting. I haven't run the idea past my husband yet, but I don't see any reason he would be opposed. I am thinking that each of my kids will get a small present for themselves, then $20-30 that they can put toward buying a gift for another child. World Vision has an online "gift catalog" with items such as a goat (provides a family with income, milk, etc.), school supplies, chickens, water purification systems, etc. And there are a lot of items within the $20-30 range! Obviously, we aren't going to change the world, but we can change one child's, or one family's, life, and that's pretty powerful. So what I am thinking is that the kids will get to take their amount of money and pick a gift out of the "catalog," we'll pay for it online, and then they will, hopefully, be able to see how an act of giving - even small - can change someone's life.
Besides, isn't that what Easter is about? Giving? With Easter, we celebrate the best gift ever given - the gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! Jesus gave the ultimate gift when he freely up His life and His will to die for US. Us...I mean, really. We're pretty rotten people, and yet, He gave us a gift we didn't ask Him for, and certainly didn't deserve to recieve. But He gave it anyway. And if we are going to honor Him and His life and what He did on Easter, what better thing to do than follow His example of giving?
I can only hope and pray that my kids are receptive to this idea. Kids like gifts, and I know there may be a sense of disappointment that part of their gift is not to keep, but rather to give to others. But I think if they really can grasp what it is they're really doing, it may change their hearts and perspectives and make them better people in the long run. And I would be nothing short of amazed, proud, and humbled if my kids grew up to be "cheerful givers."
"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).