When I traveled to Nicaragua in October, everyone said, “Take several pairs of sunglasses, and cheap ones, in case you lose them or give them away.”
So I went to Kohls. I bought a pair of $3 clearance aviators, and I promptly put them on and never took them off because I loved them. I did wear them in Nicaragua. Every. Day. I never even took the other pair I brought out of my suitcase. When I got home, I wore them all winter, so of course I packed them again in March.
On our first visit to the orphanage, I was looking for the little girl who had been my heart since October. She was funny, and sassy, and a little stand-offish, but she had been my fast companion. I’d spent the months leading up to our trip telling myself that I couldn’t build up expectations, but when I made eye contact with her, and I could see that she recognized me, I grinned. She was her funny, stand-offish self, but she immediately noticed the bracelet I was wearing, because I’d given her a matching one our last day together. Her friend recognized me as the one who’d sent her a note and some small gifts at Christmas. Although our visit was brief before the girls had to go to school, I wasn’t disappointed, because I was excited that she remembered me. And I’d seen her. Hugged her. After thinking and praying for her for the previous five months.
Fast forward to our last day at the orphanage. Though we’d visited a couple times through the week, I still didn’t have a lot of time with my friend. It just…never happened. So when we started saying goodbyes, I almost didn’t go searching for her. I told myself that I must have built it up too much in my head. However, I knew I’d regret it if 1) I didn’t say goodbye to her anyway, and 2) I didn’t take a picture with her.
So I walked through the halls and called for her. I finally found her and gave her a hug, telling her we were getting ready to go and telling her how happy I was to have seen her again on my visit. I promised to pray for her, and asked if there was anything I could be praying for when I was back home. As she talked, she reached for my sunglasses and was playing with them.
I had been wishing I’d brought something with me to give her, a token for her to keep, so that when she saw it, she’d remember that I was praying, so I told her to keep the sunglasses. She flashed a big smile.
I was proud of myself this trip–I made it all the way to the bus before tearing up after saying goodbye. Sitting in my seat waiting for the rest of the trip, I dug around in my backpack, and pulled out my sunglasses case, for I’d brought a spare pair.
I hesitated and started thinking.
Would I have given away my sunglasses if they’d been my only pair? For that particular girl, I think yes. But what if it had been someone else? Would I have given if I hadn’t known that I had a spare pair on the bus, and a couple more at home? What if I knew I could never have another pair of sunglasses again…would I be willing to give them up then?
Would I give out of want, not just out of my excess?
In the two weeks following my trip, I read the story of the widow’s mite in my daily Scripture readings and heard it mentioned in two separate sermons by two separate pastors. In the passage, Jesus and His disciples observed wealthy men giving opulent gifts in the temple, followed by a destitute widow giving of her coins that were worth mere pennies. Jesus told the disciples that the widow gave more than the rich rulers, for they gave out of wealth, but she gave everything she had to live on (Mark 12:41-44). Each time, I thought about those silly sunglasses, and how I gave mine away, but I gave one of many, not all I had.
Not that giving them away was wrong, or that I gave out of the wrong motives, but I am challenged to look for ways to be obedient to the point of sacrifice, not simply when it’s easy.
Sunglasses are a silly example. Yes, I’d survive without sunglasses if I gave away the only pair I would ever have in my life. But I believe I am called to be faithful in the small things, to prove my faithfulness in the larger things (Luke 16:10).
I pray that my heart will continue to grow closer and closer to the Lord that in each moment, I am more and more aware that from Him, through Him, and to Him are all things. I want to grow into the place that, from sunglasses to my life, I am willing to open my grasp and say, “Here, Lord, take it, for it is not mine to hold.”
A daily surrender.