Act 7: Hold it Lightly
Being generous isn’t about what you have – it’s about what you do with what you’re given. Where’s your treasure? Because that’s where your heart is, too. Today, do an inventory analysis. What are you holding on to? Is there anything you need to hold a little lighter?
First Steps: Pray about the stuff you’ve got and think about why it’s important to you. Ask God to show you anything in your life that you’re clinging onto too tightly, and to help you use it for others.
Take it Further: Give away one of your favourite things. It could be anything: a scarf, book, DVD, your favourite penguin bobble hat… Give it to someone you know will really appreciate it or need it.
I’ve got an hour: Make an inventory in your journal of all the stuff/things you have in your life. Can you live with less? Would you maybe even find freedom in it? Filling up some bags for your local charity shop is a great way to start living more lightly.
The comment I wrote on the 40 Acts Facebook page rather sums up my feelings here: I think this is a real challenge – it’s easy to be generous when it doesn’t “hurt” but it’s more difficult when it’s something that is close to your heart. I do tend to “calculate” if I can afford (in monetary or emotional terms) to be generous. God will need to prod me VERY hard today, I think!!
This is it…In a way I think these 40 Acts are great, because they challenge me – but I only let them challenge me a little – as much as I calculate is “okay” for me. I will go thus far, but no further. So this challenge is quite a hard one, because every time I thought “Oh I could do this…or give this…” I was mentally adding “because that won’t hurt me too much” I am certainly not giving the widow’s mite: I am not prepared to give till it hurts.
What I think God has prodded me to do is to look very hard at my book collection. There are a lot of books in this house and I ought to get rid of some. But how? In France there is not necessarily a great call for English books, BUT I am thinking that there may be some collèges, or more probably lycées where an injection of English language books to the library might be welcomed. So over the next weekend I will cull our collection of books, looking particularly at those books which would be suitable for young adults, and then take them to some of the lycées in Roanne. It won’t be hurting me till I squeak, but I do find it quite hard to get rid of books, so it is some kind of sacrifice!
Act 8: TickTock
Lateness, without genuine reason, says ‘I’m more important than you’. If you’ve ever had to sit around waiting for someone who said they’d arrive half an hour ago, you’ll know how annoying it is. Set your alarm 15 minutes early, get organised the night before, and get there. On time.
I’m not going out today: That’s okay. This is a principle for living, not a one-time challenge. Make a point of being punctual the next time you’re heading out by going through your calendar for a few minutes. Set alarms on your phone if you have to, to make sure you’re on time!
Try this: The bare minimum is to arrive when you say you will. Could you be there a few minutes earlier, though?
The Extra Mile:If you’re super-organised, arrive early, and bring the person/people you’re meeting a treat or their favourite coffee. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but it might just make their day.
The reflection, which you can read here, has caused quite a lot of controversy, with some people feeling it is criticising rather than building up. I can see that – I appreciate that for some people being late is something that – for many reasons – they just can’t help. There is also a discussion about this very subject going on on Ship of Fools at the moment. But I do feel that sometimes people are late through (often unintentional) discourtesy, because they have watched the end of a TV programme, checked their emails or whatever.
I’m not generally late – as I am a teacher, it is not only rude but is also unprofessional to arrive late for lessons. I do occasionally find myself leaving too little time to get to an appointment, but I have learned that while I know it takes 30 minutes to get to Roanne, I need to leave at least anther 20 minutes to get to one’s destination once there, and find parking etc. I also carry a crossword book in my bag, so if I’m early it’s certainly not a problem. Like my mother, I would raher be an hour early for a train/plane etc than 5 minutes late.
My take on this challenge is not to concentrate on my punctuality, but rather not to get worked up about others’ unpunctuality. We have a friend who is almost always late. We joke about “real time” and “His time” but it does sometimes rankle that he is always late. But he’s busy and sometimes does get held up; he has a physical job, and so needs to take a shower; he has stuff that needs sorting. It’s not All About Me. So for my challenge I will take on the words from the “green” challenge: That’s okay. This is a principle for living, not a one-time challenge. In future, I won’t get tied up in knots if people are late; I won’t take it as a personal snub; I won’t think that they are being discourteous. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and imagine that they have been unavoidably held up, rather than they are just having another cup of tea…and if dinner is a little crisp round the edges, so be it. Their presence and their friendship is more important than a perfectly cooked soufflé!