House For Six

Growth In A Giving Heart

Deme CrinionComment
On Saturday we had a very impromptu garage sale (which you can read more about over at our home blog).  We had several items I planned to post on craigslist, and we had bags upon bags of items to sell or donate randomly planted throughout the house.  I figured a garage sale would be the quickest way to tackle the growing mound. There was also going to be a donation truck in our neighborhood on Monday that could whisk away anything that didn't sell on the weekend.

I decided to make one last sweep of all the rooms and gather anything else we could add to the sale.  Usually, I sneak extra toys and outgrown clothes out of the kids rooms, bag them up for donation and they never notice the difference.  But a garage sale is different.  The kids are able to see all of their items out on the table and see other people admiring them for themselves.  Things they haven't played with in ages suddenly become the treasured toys they just can't live without.

The last time we went through the kids' rooms looking for items to donate, Mia really struggled with letting go.  Her room was bursting at the seams with toys, clothes and just STUFF.   Even clothes that were too small and uncomfortable to wear, she wanted to keep "for decoration".   I assure you we don't decorate the house with our outgrown clothes.  Usually.

The battle to convince her to give away her extra things came to a head over slippers.  Slippers that she never wore.  In going through her room we found 5 pairs.  I wanted her to choose 2 to keep and 3 to give away.  The tears flowed, along with conversations about other children who had very real needs that we could help meet.

I want giving to be a regular and natural thing for Mia (and all our kids), but this was uncharted territory.  It was the first time we really involved her in the process of discerning needs from wants..of identifying the excess to give away. And it was hard.

I was tempted to force Mia to give away those 3 pairs of slippers.  To insist she give.

Cultivating a giving heart is a curious thing.  We can force a child to 'give' but without a willing heart and the desire to help another, it simply becomes taking.  We take from a child unwilling to let go, in the name of giving to another in need.

I wanted Mia to give from a willing heart and to do it joyfully.  So this meant that Mia gave away one pair of slippers that day - what she was willing to give.

A couple months later and we are here, preparing for a garage sale.  Mia had another opportunity to go through her room with me and decide what we could add to the sale.  We started with a bin of stuffed animals.

Personally, I'm not a big fan...they don't really serve a purpose, tend to multiply every time I turn my back, and rarely see play time.  We have our regular lovies for bed and snuggles but the rest, well, most of the time they are simply there.  To curb the amount of animals and dolls that come in, we have one hamper-sized bin in Mia's closet for all the kids' stuffed animals.  When it begins to overflow, it's time for some to move on.

I pulled out the bin and braced for a fight.  Then my girl surprised me.  Two very similar looking dolls?  Sure, let's give Sally-Swims-A-Lot away and keep Jenny.  A little puppy we got as a prize but don't really play with? Sure, let's put him out for sale.  Uh, OK!

There were still some "friends" she was not willing to part with yet, that I thought were ready for a new home, but I saw a significant change in her sweet heart.

I wondered if this was circumstantial.  Was there a difference between giving away toys and selling them?  The true test came after the sale.

Oddly, we had only one child come to the sale with her mom.  A few toys still sold, but Sally-Swims-A-Lot was still there at the end of the sale.  Throughout the morning, Mia asked, "When is someone going to buy Sally-Swims-A-Lot?"  She really wanted to see a little girl come and happily scoop up Sally for her own.

But that moment didn't happen.  Mia asked what would happen to Sally next.  I explained that the donation truck would be here on Monday and they would deliver Sally to a little girl that really wanted a doll of her very own.  Mia said, "OK, I'll just say goodbye to her then".  And it was done.

Her heart was so much more open to letting go and I pray that it's just the beginning.  I'm very proud of her and want her to know the joy of giving, from one child to another, and for the rest of her life.  Way to go, sweet girl!