At the ReWrite Conference I attended this past weekend, Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom blog spoke. She shared lots of great insight into writing and growing an audience. While I took notes on all of it, one thing she said resonated with me and I’d put on a plaque if I could. She said, “Live simply so you can give generously.” Those words weren’t just a catch phrase from her either. She donated all the proceeds from her last book to build a shelter for 160 mother’s and children in the Dominican Republic.
It’s crazy how all the little things we spend money on add up each week, month and year. I think about a convenience store run I made this week for junk food. I walked out with a bag full of goodies and spent $12. Imagine if I did that once a week. That would be $48 a month or $624 a year. I could feed an orphan in Haiti 2 meals a day for almost two years with just what I spent on junk food in one year. What I spend on junk food in a week could feed that child something nutritious for almost two weeks.
I’m not living simply, I’m simply living. There are so many other ways to look at this. What about the time I spend in front of the TV or on a device playing games? I easily spend an hour a day doing that. What if I spent that hour investing in someone else’s life who needs a mentor? What kind of difference would that make in both of our lives? What if I spent it at the nursing home being a friend to the elderly who’s family rarely comes to see them? I wonder how our quality of life would improve. What if I volunteered as a Big Bother for a kid who needs guidance? If I was able to change the trajectory of one life, it would be worth it.
When I think of that phrase, I imagine so many possibilities. So many ways I could give generously. Then reality sets in. I don’t want to give up my Kit Kat and Coke. I love playing Minion Rush to give my mind a break. When the need for helping an orphan arises, I’ll say,”I can’t this month.” When someone needs my attention, I’ll say, “I don’t have time.” When an organization looks for volunteers, I’ll say, “I’m booked. Maybe next month.” It’s easier to live in abundance than it is to live simply. It’s easier to make an excuse than an effort. An orphan goes hungry. A kid grows up without a mentor they can look up to. Other’s lives are affected, but not mine.
I don’t want to affect my own life. I’m comfortable if I don’t think about the impact I could have on someone else if I could give generously. All of a sudden living simply is too hard. I’ll console myself that I go to church, put money in the offering plate and help out minimally. I’ll tell myself that I’m a good person and everything is fine. The truth is that I have RYRS. That’s Rich Young Ruler Syndrome. I tell God that I’ve kept His commandments since I was a child. When He asks me to live simply and give generously, I walk away sad because I have lots of things I’d rather not give up.
He asked me to come follow Him and instead I’m walking back into the life I told Him I was willing to give up. When push came to shove, I couldn’t do it. An orphan went hungry. A wayward child went to jail a few years later. Someone’s grandparent died alone. I had the power. I had the choice, but I walked away because I wasn’t willing to let go of the little things keeping me from living simply and giving generously. I wonder how that conversation will go when I stand before God and He asks what I did with what He supplied. How will your conversation with God go?