A couple of Fridays ago, I turned 41. There wasn’t anything special about this birthday except the fact that I was alive to see it. So I guess that, alone, makes it pretty special. However, the day came in riddled with the tasks of an ordinary day – picking up kids, running to practices, washing clothes and folding laundry. I know right! Not the most glorious way to celebrate the one special day we all get each year. It was dull and mundane.
Earlier that morning, I was a dam waiting to break. Every time I picked up the phone and someone started to sing happy birthday, I just cried. I’m not even sure why either. I was just emotional. Maybe, it’s because I’m still grieving the loss of my grandmother, maybe it’s because I’m grieving all of my unrealized hopes and dreams, or maybe, just maybe I’m grieving the realization that there is no day that is not a laundry day.
Since I’ve witnessed the death of friends and family who never got to see this age, I’m grateful.
Even though this day was no different from any other day, I wanted a way to celebrate my life that was unordinary, so I gave gifts to others on my birthday. I decided in the month prior that I wanted to give 41 gifts away. After going back and forth about whether to get cards, gift cards, stamps etc., I just decided to give 41 $5 cash apps which totaled $205.
Hey! I have a kid in college, and tuition ran me about $10,000 this year out-of-pocket, and my pockets ain’t deep. I wish I could have given more, but these days $205 is about 25% of a monthly tuition payment. So, do what you can do until you can do better, right?
This $5 experiment taught me a lot though, and here’s what I learned:
1.) People are shocked when you give on your day. I was quite tickled over the responses I received. Most of them were marked by either shock or uncertainty. Text messages and Facebook messages all read something like this, “Hey, did you mean to send me $5?” or “It’s YOUR birthday! Why are you sending Me money?” At least I can say that I have honest friends; they were not about to let me unknowingly give away money. They were ready to send it back. What I realized is that people expect people to request something from them more than they expect someone to give something to them.
2.) When you give, others want to give back. Some friends couldn’t handle it. I gave them $5, and they turned around and gave me $15 or $20 in response –which defeated my intention. Some of them are just natural givers, but I wonder how many didn’t want to feel obligated that they owed me anything? I wonder how many of them really wrestle with letting someone just bless them with something as simple as coffee or ice cream? I wonder how many really struggle with accepting things (even little things) from others because people have held things over their heads in the past? I’m not saying this is the case with my friends. I think that the real answer is that my friends are really friends. They reciprocate the love. They pour into me as much as I pour into them, and after all, that is the real meaning of friendship. Right? Nothing one-sided over here.
3.) All God needs is your desire and your faith to start. All I had was the desire and God met me with my intention. I woke up to a $50 cash app for my birthday, and I started by sending out my first ten $5 gifts to people. Throughout the day, I received more money…. $25, $20, $15, $43, $41, and before I knew it, I had sent 41 people 41 gifts in the form of cash for Starbucks or ice cream.
Here’s what I learned in all this. At first, I was more worried about my resources. I could have taken all of my money and thrown it towards my daughter’s tuition bill, so part of me wanted to be like, “Girl, what are you doing? Do you know what you could be doing with that money?” Here’s the thing. I had already set my intention, so I couldn’t change mid-course for self-gain. I had to follow through. Besides, it wasn’t about the $205. I make good money; it was about if my heart had the power to resist the urge to keep what I said that I was going to give in the first place.
This also taught me that I need to stop worrying so much about the how. All I needed was the desire, God giving the green light on the plan and my first step-action. God did the rest. I didn’t know that I was going to receive as much money as I did for my birthday. What’s amazing is that I was able to give to 41 people and still have over $100 left for me. Is that not what you call a win, win? By blessing others, I did not miss out on my own blessing. God was able to take my desire, fulfill it, and no money had to come out of my existing account. EVERYTHING was provided, and I had leftovers!
Lesson learned: God is a God of more than enough. We should never worry about the how; we just have to be sure to check our hearts.
This experience reiterated to me that there is a blessing in being a blessing. Sometimes, we get so caught up with receiving that we forget that the Bible tells us that it is better to give than to receive. I’m positive that includes our birthdays too. It does something for us. It reminds us that when we give from a selfless and genuine place, God sees our heart and has our back!
I wish you all love, peace, prosperity, and a proper perspective on giving that opens your heart and that pours blessings back into your life!