Went to Starbucks today to pick Rhonda up her favorite coffee. I placed my order and pulled up to the window. At the window I was informed my order had been paid for by the person a head of me. A recurring phenomenon at Starbucks. I remember thinking, “Wow! Free coffee!!” But also surmising I did not want to be the person to “break the chain” of generosity in the Starbucks line. No telling what kind of Starbucks scrooge list I would end up on if I did. So I quickly responded with – “OK, I will take care of the person behind me.”
As those words left my lips my eyes glanced into my review view mirror to notice there were 4 people in the car behind me. Immediately, the cash registrar in my head began to run possible totals – as the Barista returned to vocalize the actual total confirming my estimations. My tall white chocolate mocha with soy – just became an expensive cup of coffee.
I reached back into my wallet and pulled at the rest of my cash thinking, “there goes Subway for 4!” As I drove off all I could do was smile and laugh. But as I continued on my commute to deliver this temporary object of my generosity, I noticed something else going on in my heart.
I did not feel any regret, guilt or anger about the amount of money I just spent on coffee. But I did feel free. Not because my coffee was free – but rather because of the expression of generosity, both toward me and from me.
I think a great benefit from generosity, when you receive it and offer it, is freedom. I have felt this way before. Matter fact, it happens every time I give. There is so much freedom in the giving. Freedom for the object of generosity. A burden is lifted, a need met or a stressful reality put to rest. And freedom for the generosity giver. The blessing of being part of lifting the burden, meeting the need, or changing the reality.
This is not a natural tendency. Some have a better capacity for it – but it is not natural to operate in the generous. But we are called to live “in humility consider others as more important than yourselves; to look not only for our own interest but also for the interest of others.” (Phil 2:3-4)
I hope I can get better at living in the generous. Generosity is expensive – but the freedom it brings is worth every dime it may cost.