Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.God is not alone in God's sentiment; I too love a cheerful giver. Generosity is a wonderful virtue. To encounter a gift with good cheer and enthusiasm? That's pure delight.
I struggle with giving cheerfully. Too often, I feel the weight of obligation. I hold on to what I have too tightly. I fear that I may not have what I want or need and so I give as a last resort. But I have seen with my own eyes and felt in my soul, the difference that cheer brings to giving. I truly believe that those who give with their whole heart not only make others happier, they get a decent kickback t00!
As a teacher of virtue ethics, I am aware of how to become a cheerful giver; I know how to become what I ]admire. Aristotle boiled it down to three steps: 1) learn the virtue 2) look to an exemplar—one who employs the virtue and 3) practice the virtue. I have learned what cheerful giving is and what it is not. I have "giving cheerfully role models;" I love these people. Now I simply need to do it.
There are varying schools of thought on how to practice the virtue. My spiritual director once told me, be careful if you want patience. "Why?" I queried. "Because you'll get it..." She paused to see if I understood. I nodded in fear. "You'll get patience by being put in situations when and where you need it." Oh no, I thought. Must the acquisition of a virtue be painful?
No. I believe we can also grow in virtue by starting small...by practicing even when it's easy. When we are ready we can take the next step—a small stretch so that a good deed is made better.
In this instance, I can start by giving in small ways, cheerfully. Over time, I hope to assess my efforts and personal growth. AND, I think a visual tool can be a helpful resource.
Were Bruce Bochy to walk into a bar, I would not think twice about giving generously. Good cheer is implied. My motto would be: ready, aim, pay. I might even be offended if told "I'm sorry, but Bocy's meal has already been taken care of."
Thinking of the three- time World Series champion in this way, makes me wonder to whom else should I say "thank you." Who else has brought joy to my life? How might I be able to honor those to whom I feel a great deal of gratitude. Why not practice cheerful giving upon these folks?! Habits aren't born overnight nor do they stick without practice, focus or a given mindset.
So consider developing a new habit: a virtue upon virtue. Cheer with generosity, or love with honesty, understanding with courage. I have a feeling God love that too.
In the meantime, we thank the good Lord for leaders like Bruce Bochy. Athletes and managers who have brought great joy and good cheer into the homes and hearts of those who love a great game, meal and all!