I write a blog each week for my congregation and their friends, and I recently wrote about “letting others change.” I think this idea is intimately connected to generosity. When we think of the most generous people in our lives, we often will share things like how open they are and how good we feel in their presence. Generous people are warm, inviting, and forgiving. Generous people accept us for who we are—and who we are becoming—without making us relive who we once were. It is an amazing and tremendous gift. Here is a bit of the blog, and an invitation to generosity of spirit:
“I have been noticing there is a lot of change going on. I know, I’m quick, like this is some new news. But change is everywhere. In my family. In the world. In the church. In my community. I’m having a hard time keeping up, I have to be honest. I was recently checking in with a friend and told her we now have 2 teenagers and are taking on a new vocation, that of the taxi driver…friends, the pay isn’t great and sometimes the customers are a piece of work! But in all this change, in our kids and in ourselves, I am realizing how hard it can be to let someone else change. In the case of our kids, adolescence is a huge leap from the playful and relatively easy times of the age just past. I need to pay attention to letting them struggle some and figure it out on their own and try on different aspects of their personalities, even the crabbier ones. Change is happening rapidly and I need to change too to keep up with the ones I love so much. I am watching another friend with the very same struggle with her aging parent—they need to figure out changes too! And the thing is, it can be hard to let someone change. Oh, they are going to change all right, the question is in our own inner thinking. Can we forgive the brat sibling from our childhood and see them as a graceful, generous adult? Can we see the fun-loving friend struggle with their fear and anxiety in light of a health scare and not expect them to breeze on through? Can we let our spouse discover a new interest and be flexible as it changes the dynamics of a marriage? When we can adapt and accept change—in family, in friends, in ourselves—we can find ourselves more at ease in the world. We can move with more grace and forgiveness, kindness and hope.”
And in so doing, we can be generous. Generosity is as much an attitude as it is an activity. As you deepen your generosity, may you pay attention to your “generosity of spirit” and the ways you connect to the people around you—family, friends, neighbors, and people who are strangers or yet to be friends.
Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant for ABCUSA. She is also the Coordinator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.