“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
My seven-year-old daughter often helps me in the manufacturing process in our small soap making business. The other afternoon, out of the blue, she came up to me and said, “Mom, I think we should give some of our soap to the homeless.”
This is one of those moments in a parent’s life where light shines down from heaven, angels begin to sing, and an ethereal glow develops around your precious child’s head. The mixture of my astonishment and pride was followed by shame, because I had actually thought of that before, but never implemented it. Having a plan of generosity put into action had to be done by one of God’s most innocent of creatures: a child.
I told her that I thought it was a fabulous idea, and we set about making plans and trying (via Facebook) to get people to assist with donations. That night, my daughter busily rushed about her room, collecting things and setting them on our kitchen table. When the pile had nearly reached a foot high, I asked her what she was doing. She matter-of-factly stated, “I’m gathering my unused toys to give to the homeless kids we meet.”
To top this all off, the next words out of her mouth were, “Oh, and is it okay if I have a few more minutes to get ready for bed? I’ve been so busy clearing out my toys that I need more time to do my devotions.” (A few weeks prior to this, she had started reading her Bible and doing devotions right before bed at night. This was completely of her own accord. She knows that my husband and I do daily devotions, but at her age, it had never occurred to us to have her doing them, as well. She took the bull by the horns and started it herself!)
At seven years old, my daughter needed more time before bed to read her Bible and do her devotions because she had been so busy setting aside her own toys to give to homeless children. There was the light, the singing and the glow again!
Last week, we implemented her plan. She and I, along with her big brother, went to the collar store, bought snack containers and washcloths, and put together small packages with those items, plus some handmade soaps and notes that read, “Jesus loves you!”
We took them to our local soup kitchen to distribute, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. I’ve worked soup kitchens before, but I’ve never had the opportunity while working to sit and talk to people. I had briefed the kids beforehand on how important it was to look people in the eyes, smile, and shake their hands. I had explained how so often, homeless people are invisible to the community, and how not many people care enough to sit and converse with them. I told them how sad this was, because people who are homeless are, first and foremost, people. I hoped they were prepared for the environment.
The kids and I socialized with the patrons there and handed out our care packages. We heard many stories, including one man, whom my son said was “just like Job,” because he had so many things taken away from him, but was still hopeful and very grateful for any kindness shown to him and his friends.
Their eyes were opened to kind of love they had never experienced so poignantly before. On our way home, we discussed the difference between philos love and agape love. I explained to them that agape love is selfless, generous, and available to anyone, regardless of their position in our lives. I commended them on showing their agape love to the people at the soup kitchen.
Through it all, they had let the love of Jesus shine through them to all the people present. They are now excited about making this at least a monthly occurrence (provided we can keep up on buying soap base!), and they already have plans for different types of care packages we can make in the future.
One small gesture by one small child is now one huge impact in their lives. God is doing incredible things because of one willing seven-year-old heart. Imagine what he could do through the rest of us if we had just a small dose of my daughter’s gumption!