Have you ever seen crazy generosity? The kind that really makes no sense? The kind where you step back and go – Really? The flavor of giving that leaves you with your jaw on the ground and a million questions swirling in your head? I have. I got a front row seat to that kind of makes-no-sense, bigger-than-us generosity at our recent YoungLives Christmas Boutique. And let me just tell you, it was soulfillingly (yes, I just made up that word!) beautiful.
The generosity started with the giving of gently used items for babies, mamas, and baby daddies / boyfriends. I casually made an announcement at a weekly gathering I attend. I figured I would just “throw it out there” and maybe have a couple of people give a few things. Fast forward a few weeks, and a literal mountain of donated items was in front of my garage door. I got a little choked up by such kindness. Oh, but the goodness of generosity was just getting started.
After that there was a simple little text from a friend. Her daughter’s National Charity League group had voted and they wanted to give a bunch of wrapped gifts to our Young Lives moms. Would that be OK, the text asked. Young girls giving to other young girls in a very different circumstance. If that isn’t beauty, I don’t know what is.
Other volunteers across the county were having the same experience as me as we collected and sat in awe of the abundance. On the evening of the event, we filled one room where the moms and young guys would have a chance to shop for themselves, one room where they parents could shop for their babies, one room where new toys were on display and the teen parents could place tickets in a raffle to win the toy of their choice, gifts under a tree to be given to the girls as they arrived, and then a parting gift for the end of the evening. Did I mention that someone stopped by the morning we were setting up and just happened to have gifts to give to all the kids when they sat on Santa’s lap? Oh, yeah, that happened too!
Are you getting the picture? Are you seeing the love and kindness just seeping out of the edges of this whole beautiful scene? Not quite? OK, then let me tell you about the kind of generosity that doesn’t offer THINGS, but time and talents.
So much of that kind of generosity showed up at the Christmas Boutique that I don’t even know where to begin. I could tell you about the young woman who gave her time to decorate the entire venue EXQUISITELY. Or I could tell you about the hours of logistical planning that went into making the whole evening flow smoothly. I could also mention the army of baby holding arms and patient listening ears that came out to rock, cuddle, read, and play with the little 50+ guests in attendance. Oh, and there was the professional photographer who set up the most beautiful of back drops for family photos for these teens. Yep, they ARE families and their special moments, like Christmas with their babies, deserve marking, honoring and remembering too. That was a generous gift that will be treasured for years to come.
Ever think about driving as being generous? I can assure you that as a mom with 4 kids left at home, each with a bajillion activities, driving is a pure act of generosity! And our volunteers and mentors battled the traffic of a Tuesday night and the car seat wrangling required to get babies where they needed to be. They did it with ease and grace – even at the end of the evening when loading their cars up to leave was harder than winning a game of Tetris.
Then there were the guys that prepared the meal. When we volunteers gathered in the kitchen to pray before the guests started to arrive, I was just overcome by how a simple smell can speak love. The meal of ham, sweet potatoes, and spinach salad smelled so good and so comforting. These guys had given their day to prepare a meal to be shared and enjoyed by many that they didn’t even know. That there is a foodie’s generosity in all its glory.
And then Myrna’s message. Oh, the message that is so simple that it can be contained in one nativity sticker sheet. And yet, it’s so complex that you can hear it again and again and take something new away each time. The teens sat and heard of Jesus’ birth and of circumstances that weren’t ideal and choices that were hard. They heard of shepherds who “leaned in” and went to see, because a great and generous God told them to. They were invited to lean in too, to see what God has for them.
Some went away with a lot of wonderful gifts. Some went away inspired and encouraged. Some went away feeling loved and cared for. Some went away understanding the Christmas story for the first time ever. And some went away believing again in the goodness of the God who created them and the gift of His son that we celebrate at Christmas. Whatever each teen took away from that beautiful evening, it was generosity in its many and varied forms that made it possible. The same generosity that brought a baby into the world thousands of years ago overflows in us today to point the way back to Him!
Merry Christmas to all of our teen parents and babies as well as to all of our YoungLives supporters and volunteers!
Tricia Poissonnier, YoungLives Volunteer