I really enjoy receiving gift cards. I am in such a practical phase of life that gift cards are a kind of fun and frivolous experience for me. Even when I get a grocery store gift card, I use it to buy what I would have bought anyway…plus a little something extra–maybe fresh fruit out-of-season, a bag of frozen salmon, really good cheese, something special. With our $300-a-month grocery budget, these things are real treats for us. It’s fun!
As much as I enjoy getting gift cards, I do not like buying gifts cards. Most of the time, you get exactly what you pay for in a gift card. I like to get a good deal, and I’m a fairly good shopper, so I can usually get a bigger bang for my buck if I shop for a specific item instead of a gift card.
In the past year, I have been coming around to buying gift cards for a couple of reasons. One, they’re really, really easy to tuck into a card and mail. Two, pretty much everybody likes them. When I have a little bit of “mad money”, I buy a gift card and send it to someone for no good reason. Sometimes, I do this as a thank-you. More often, I do it just because. And, oftentimes I send it anonymously. Then, no one feels obligated to return the favor, and I get to go through my days with a secret-knowing smile in my heart.
When I was at Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University) a blue million years ago, I was broke like almost every other student in attendance. My husband and I practically subsisted on rice and beans and frozen vegetables, and I worked full-time between two jobs while taking a full load of classes. I had a few scholarships, and my mom helped out with what she could, but I was responsible for the rest. (By the way, I’m not complaining about this. It was my education, and I know no reason why someone else should pay for it.) I remember returning from the registrar’s office after learning that someone had anonymously put a sizable chunk of money on my account. I don’t remember exactly how much it was, but it was a lot to me at the time. The gratitude and humility I still feel toward that person is undiminished. I have thanked God for and asked His provision and protection over that person many, many times in the past twenty years. I have shared the story of their generosity with my children and even in some of the classes I teach. I hope they know how encouraging their gift was.
I am not always in a position to credit someone’s account with a few hundred dollars, but I am in a position to live generously. Most of us are. We live in a society that pays money to wash their cars, color their hair, tattoo their bodies and wax their bikini areas. We certainly have money to live generously.
Challenge: Buy a gift card and send it to someone anonymously. Go one step further by attaching a note with reasons why you appreciate them.