By Jenny Morris
Occasionally, I think back on the economies of a past life.
They were just the garden-variety ones. I took a calculator to the grocery store to make sure I bought the most economical sizes. I used half a cup of detergent in the wash for all but the cloth diapers. Then I hung everything on a clothesline, inside if it rained.
When the kitchen sink rebelled against all the mop water I poured down it, I washed dishes in the lavatory until payday when a plumber could come and be paid.
One year money was especially tight and the electric bill was especially high. Tired of being cold, my 3-year-old and I dragged a garbage can down the street to pick up all the twigs from a neighbor’s backyard. Back home, we shoved them into the wood-burning stove and raised the indoor temperature by 10 degrees or more.
Regardless of my bank balance, early training and late conviction kept me writing a monthly tithe check to the local church.
In my new life, I don’t take a calculator to the grocery store anymore. I put what’s on the list in the cart. That’s both an indicator and the cause that the lean years of my youth have passed. I don’t worry too much about electric bills either.
And when I write that tithe check every month, at times I have a little extra to give. It’s tax prep time and as I scurry to find receipts and records I’m reminded of some of the donations I’ve made over the past year.
Some of my choices make perfect sense. I teach developmental reading classes at a community college, so my check to the WMU literacy fund was almost self-serving.
Others seem like whims. I put cash in the bucket outside the grocery store one day because the man asked so nicely.
Still others are nostalgic nods to things that once held my affections. Though I didn’t always like school, I always loved shopping for school supplies. So I gave to a neighborhood drive to pack backpacks in August.
Sometimes I get a receipt and sometimes I don’t. But I always like the contrast with the feelings from all the years I didn’t have extra to give. Math-challenged as I am, I’ve learned one equation very well: Giving = Good.
Recently, I gained another insight.
I used to think that how I spend my money somehow tells God the state of my heart. But then one day I realized that if I am participating in some divine assessment, the results are entirely for me. God doesn’t need any diagnostic tools.
How I spend my money tells me the state of my heart.
God already knows.
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