The Secret of Truly Giving

I brought in the plastic bags. Putting them down on the table, I unload them. I’m thankful I got to go to the food pantry today. Thankful I have something different to offer my family.

Opening the Duncan Hines box, I’m looking forward to making cake. You don’t buy cake with a limited budget; cake is a luxury item.

Reaching for my large bowl, I feel like singing. Maybe things will be okay.

Dumping the mix into the bowl, I smell a hint of vanilla. Breaking an egg, I see it. A small speck of darkness invading the white powdery mix. Looking closer I see another and another. Bugs! This box is full of tiny bugs.

The expiration date shows me this dessert was meant for last year. I empty the contents into the trash. I don’t feel much like singing now.
I wipe a tear off of my face before my daughter sees it. I only feel poor on certain days, this is one of them.

“I think I’ll make something else,” I say smiling.

“Why?” she asks.

“I just want to,” I lie.

Struggling to hold onto thankfulness I wonder. Why do some people give away what they want to get rid of? How would they feel being on the receiving end?

I remember another time at the pantry. The volunteer behind the card table takes my information, asking me to take a seat.

When my name is called, I’m led to the first room. It’s set up like a grocery store in two rooms.
On the shelves are all kinds of canned goods, boxed goods. Taped to some shelves are little pieces of paper with numbers on them. The tag underneath the soup reads:

1-4 people
2 cans

As the volunteer watches me, I take two cans. She says,“No, you only get 1 can, you have two people in your family.

“I have three people in my family,” I whisper.

She starts to argue and checks my card. “Oh, you’re right.”

I feel like I’ve been caught stealing, except I haven’t.

We move over to the paper goods area. I get to choose between paper towels, toilet paper, or napkins on three shelves before me. I choose toilet paper. She opens up a four-pack taking one roll out. She then hands me the package with the remaining three.

I could hardly look up.

I hear only fragments of what she’s telling me. “…all the baked goods you’d like…you can take two packs of gum or two candy bars per child.”

I stuff my feelings down and go through the motions. Thanking her, I roll the metal cart out to my car. The noise from the metal cart prevents me from slipping out. I hope I don’t see anyone I know.

By the time I open my trunk, the tears won’t stop. I don’t ever want to come back here again.

Returning the cart I see my friend who works there.

“What’s wrong?” she asks.

I relay my experience. “Do you know how hard it is to come here? I almost brought the food back in. I don’t think I can do this again. But I want you to know, I do appreciate the food.”

“I’m so sorry,” she says, “Please come back.”

A month goes by. It’s Monday, the day the food pantry is open. I decide to go back.

I notice changes. No one opens the package of toilet paper to keep a roll. No one challenges me when I take my two cans of soup. I felt heard.
It’s hard to be a person in need.

It’s sad we live in a world where a person’s worth is determined by what he/she has. If you have little, you are worth little.

But, that’s not right. By those standards, Jesus would be considered a nobody. He didn’t have a place to lay his head.

A missionary couple shared a story with me years ago. While living overseas they received a care package from one of their supporters. They felt excited until they opened a small container in the bottom of one box. In it were slivers of soap and used tea bags.

How could that encourage someone’s heart?

We need to remember everyone has value; even those in need.

What is the secret of truly giving?

We can ask ourselves these questions:

“Would I be happy to get this?” or “Is this something I would give my family?”

And if the answer is no, we should throw it away.

When God gave, He gave his best.

The secret of truly giving is to give our best.

5 thoughts on “The Secret of Truly Giving

  1. Anne, this is very moving. I have not been in that position of need, yet have always felt wrong about giving anything sub par. Others have tried to tell me that a bit out of date isn’t a big deal—your words brought tears to my eyes and validated what I have known in my heart. We should always give our very best, yes? I just never thought of it as being an encouragement to someone. Thank you for sharing this. Beautifully written!


  2. This is great! I enjoyed reading this and have experienced some of the same feelings having been close to bankruptcy a time or two. I appreciate how you write with great transparency.


    • Charlie,
      Thanks for reading it. It was a difficult one to write, but after I hit the submit key, the feedback I received was positive. I’m going to change the image though. So may I ask, when you were struggling, how did you change the mindset. Because even if circumstances change, it takes a while for our brains to catch up.


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