A Counterintuitive Safety Net In Times of Scarcity
A week after I published this article, I received this certificate from EarthJustice.
(I thought it was a brilliant marketing ploy — acknowledgment for over 25 years of giving to protect our environment.) I also thought it was a testament to how things often work — there is often a ripple of agreement from the Universe, for who we think we are. I had not, until after I wrote this piece, ever received an acknowledgment for donating. Odd coincidence, isn't it?
No matter my financial struggles or hardships I have made many small donations every month for over 20 years. It began as a response to feeling grateful for my clients and our work together. I donated to give thanks, a practice of gratitude.
Although I was a single mom, at times barely making ends meet, I did not wish to identify as poor or unable to give. Giving offered me a way to see myself as having enough. This was a choice. I chose to be someone who had the money to give. It served me to orient myself as someone who was grateful that she could give — even if it was only $2.00. And it often felt like an act of faith to give.
I paid more attention to what I needed and prioritized making sure I paid off credit cards and important bills. I did not ignore my bills, but I did not pretend that I could not afford to support the world I wanted for my child and grandchildren.
If I felt scared or anxious about finances, this was the best antidote — although some months I’d say to myself: “Wait for a better month.” Then I’d remind myself that like any practice, one does it whether one feels like it or not. It has always worked to assuage my fear. And it felt like a pull, something would get my attention and it called on the part of me that wanted to act from gratitude and resourcefulness.
I often felt less desperate, needy, lost, powerless, anxious, and scared. I could shift my sense of wellbeing when I experienced myself as empowered rather than anxious about money or the state of the world. I still am anxious about the state of the world, and I now invest in what I value and do so from a stance of having enough to support what I love.
I realized at the beginning that the choice to give oriented me towards being worthy to receive. The simple act of giving allowed me to be a better receiver. I found that giving was important and yet so was receiving with gratitude and learning to ask for help.
I remember making a few donations and then later in the month not being able to afford something I needed. And I’d wait. And many a time my waiting would give me time to evaluate my need or allow the price to go down.
I would check out organizations on #Charity Navigator. I donate to friends (or friends of friends) gofundme pages. There was no plan or set amount, I would just go by what felt right. There were many “not this” or “later” choices. And there are people and organizations whose work and presence so matter to me that my donations often felt paltry and meaningless. I remind myself that it isn’t the amount of the donation, it is about stepping into the giving circle. It ripples out. It matters. No matter how small the amount.
Of course, all acts of care and love matter. It is finding a way to serve, to take actions — that no matter how small — place your Self into the heart of the world by giving to what matters to you. It is an act of reciprocity.
I have never shared this with anyone. It feels vulnerable to share it now. This isn’t meant to be about “good deeds." The donating was to help me get past my sense of scarcity — it was a leap of faith. Over time it became apparent that my leap of faith was in itself a safety net. More than 20 years later I still donate in gratitude for my clients and our work, for the safety nets that opened in hard times and to help assuage the suffering and anxiety which is mine and the worlds.
It is a choice we make each day to orient ourselves towards the World's Heart.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” “Every individual matters.” Jane Goodall (I adore her, this month’s donation was to her organization: https://secure.janegoodall.org