I don’t know if you’ve seen that old Bob Newhart clip where he “counsels” a woman to just “Stop it!”, but it makes me laugh every time. (You can always pull it up and watch in on youtube for a good laugh.) I think I find it so funny because there is so much truth in it. Yes, we do need to just STOP making bad choices. It’s that simple. But, as we all know, it certainly isn’t always easy.
One of the things I have had to do in order to simplify my Christmas season (and beyond) was to stop giving gifts out of obligation. There were so many people I was buying for just because I felt like I needed to–teachers, co-workers, neighbors, distant relatives. And, for many of them, I WANTED to buy them something…but I just didn’t have the financial resources to back me up on that.
I’ve learned that giving out of obligation is not the joyful kind of giving God calls us to do. There are often strings attached, and the financial ramifications of over-spending can last well beyond the life of the gift. This is not true generosity.
I love to give gifts, and I recognize that sometimes my gift-giving makes other people uncomfortable when they have nothing with which to reciprocate. I am not expecting anything; I just want to give to them. Why, then, should I feel uncomfortable when someone gives a gift to me when I have nothing for them? I don’t know, but I sometimes am. I think most of us are.
Interestingly, while we are all called to give, I think God can call one person to GIVE in certain situations and another person to NOT GIVE in those same situations. Know what I mean? Sometimes we need to remember our true priorities and make sure that the choices we make today are moving us closer to our long-term goals.