To Buy or Not to Buy a Baby Shower Gift

If last month it was flu season, then this month is definitely BABY season! I just got the news that two of my closest friends are both pregnant with baby number two—the irony being that five years ago, they were both pregnant at the same time with baby number one, along with my cousin…which leads me to wonder if she may be pregnant again too. A brother and sister, whose mom used to babysit me when I was little, are both expecting, and I have two co-workers whose wives have delivery dates in May and June.

Meanwhile, I can’t buy a man. Well, I guess I could, but I don’t want to. I practically bought that last one, and he had TWO jobs, despite being too broke to do anything.

But that’s a different story for another day.

Getting back to my co-workers (did I mention one of them just has a baby last January? Needless to say, this one wasn’t planned), the department is throwing a baby shower for them later this afternoon, and everyone is urged, though not required, to buy a gift, give them a piece of change, or do something nice for the dads-to-be.

If I’m being honest, I just want to slap them across the back, give my congratulations, get a free slice of cake and pizza, and go back to my cubicle, where I know it will be deathly quiet with everyone else still at the party.

Does that make me a bitch?

I haven’t even thought about buying a present since the day my boss said, “Let’s give them a baby shower,” a few months ago. While I was enlisted to assist in the initial planning, all we did was sit at a round table in her office and go over food, drinks, a half-baked potential theme idea, what conference room to book, and where the guys were registered. After that, the other admin in the department basically took over the planning, so I let her have it. She was all too excited to be included while I couldn’t care less. Since that short planning session, I’ve only gotten an email invite to the party and a link to the registries, which I’ve looked at maybe twice.

Now that it’s the day of the party, I’m probably the only one who will show up empty-handed, if I even show up at all. I didn’t have the best experience at the last joint baby shower we had (when co-worker who is currently on unplanned baby number 2 was expecting baby number 1 along with another co-worker who was pregnant with baby number 2). The admin at the time had sent out an email to the entire department, saying that she will be collecting baby shower gifts up to a certain date, and also asking if anyone wanted give money to put in a card. I didn’t bother to respond because buying expensive baby gifts for two people was not in the budget, and I didn’t really want to give them money either… which apparently meant I didn’t get to sign the card.

Fast forward to the day of the baby shower, the wife and husband of the two co-workers were both there, the table in the back of the room was piled with gifts along with the two cards that had everyone’s signature but mine, and as I stood off to a corner of the room, nibbling on cookies and mints, I realized that I didn’t have a close relationship with anyone in this department. Being a temp, I am often excluded from a lot of functions. the most recent one being just yesterday when the whole department disappeared for what I thought was a full-time employees only meeting but actually turned out to be a party for my boss who’s getting married in June. I was informed of the leftover cupcakes from the party at 5 that afternoon, after everyone had already gone home.

Which leaves me to ask the question: Why should I waste my money on people who treat me like an afterthought? My mom has pointed out to me that even my friends, whose kids I spend too money on, don’t do the same for me (probably because I don’t have any children, but I guess I see where she’s coming from). And when I think about all the things I’ve got my money tied up in—I’m saving for a cruise to Alaska this summer, I’ve yet to file my taxes because I’m afraid I might owe (as if the government hasn’t taken enough out of my checks), my car is three months overdue for an oil change—expensive baby shower gifts for people I don’t particularly like isn’t really in the budget.

One of my resolutions at the beginning of the year was to save money—because eventually I do want to move out of my mother’s house—but two things will keep me from reaching that goal: impulse spending—buying stuff I don’t need or won’t use but once—and giving when my heart’s not in it.

The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). It also says when you give freely, you gain even more (Proverbs 11:24). I’ve thought about, if nothing else, giving my co-workers a card. It’s not too late to make a quick trip to Dollar General on my lunch break. But then I would feel obligated to put money in it, because what’s the significance of a card other than to hold money, right? I learned that the hard way when my granddaddy copped an attitude because I only bought him a card for his birthday. Apparently a card doesn’t count as a present (even though that’s all I got for my birthday three weeks later, but I digress).

But even in buying a card, it would still be a reluctant gesture under the compulsion that everyone else is probably getting them something and that I have to, too. My heart still wouldn’t be in it. Does that make me a bad person? I hope not, because I really don’t mean to be. There are times when giving to someone comes as easily as breathing, and others when the thought just slips my mind until the day of. Like today.

So after all that rambling, have I come to a decision? I think I’ll pass on buying a gift. I don’t want to. I don’t feel lead to from a kind and sincere heart. And feeling obligated to do so because “it’s the right thing to do” and “everyone else is doing it” isn’t a good enough reason.

So what’s left? Will I skip out on the party? Will I go just to mingle for a few minutes, grab some free food, and slip out (who would notice anyway? These people never notice me)? Or will I fade uncomfortably into the background like I did at the last baby shower? The more I think about it, the more I convince myself not to even go. Again, who would notice?

Sunday Morning Word: Give From Your Heart

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7; NIV)

After my little rant yesterday about how a little old woman in the grocery store conned me out of $20, I knew “giving” would have to be my message today. For Sunday Morning Word, I usually take some inspiration from whatever sermon my pastor preached that week. If I already have an idea brewing, he usually confirms it with his sermon, and lo and behold, he did that again this week (I know it can only be the Holy Spirit aligning our hearts and minds to do His Will), leading us to Exodus chapters 35 and 36, when Moses asks the Israelites to give what they have to the Lord.

Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. (Exodus 35: 20-21)

With Thanksgiving finally behind us, it is officially the holiday season, which also means it is the season of giving. Yes, when the elaborate lights, decorative snowflakes, and Christmas trees come out, people start to feel just a little more generous than they do any other time of the year. If you shop at Food Lion, you’ve probably been asked at the register to donate a $5 hunger box to people in need. Any day now, the Salvation Army will be standing outside of all the major stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s, and others, ringing their bells. My local FOX news station sponsors “Give a Kid a Coat” and “Gifts for Kids” campaigns at this time, as well as a holiday concert where your only “ticket” is donated canned goods. My church even has an “Adopt a Family” program, where members give toward the program, as they feel lead to do so, during the offering, and the church uses that money to “adopt” a family in need and give them a Christmas they’ll never for get.

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his deed. (Proverbs 19:17; ESV)

Giving to the needy is such an integral part of Christianity. There are verses all over the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, about how important it is to give. With Christ, we have the ultimate example. Jesus gave His life so that we all could live, if we just believe in him; “For God so love the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16; NIV). If Jesus was willing to die on the cross for little ol’ me, who am I to say I won’t give a dime to my brother in need?

The great thing about giving, and I’ve said this before, is that it feels so good, like the releasing of euphoria, when you do it. Remember, “God loves a cheerful giver.” However, if you don’t feel lead by the Lord to give, don’t do it. Don’t give “reluctantly or under compulsion,” like I did with that little old woman, but with compassion and an eagerness to help, and God will reward you. Going back to the scripture from Exodus, if you read through to chapter 36, you will see that the Israelites gave so much that Moses had to order them to stop giving because they already had more than enough (Exodus 36:6-7). We see this overflow of blessing again in Malachi 3:10. This is the only time God invites us to test him. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house . . . and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

With that being said, don’t be boastful about your giving. God loves a cheerful giver, but he detests the proud (Proverbs 16:5). Jesus said in Matthew 6:2-4, “When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men . . . But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Everything we have belongs to God anyway, which is why we tithe—“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s (Mark 12:17)—so when you give to someone in need you are essentially giving back to the Father.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:35-40)

Is there anyone out there today so generous? Would you sell all of your possessions to give to someone in need (Acts 2:45)? It truly bothers me when I turn on the news or login to social media and see so many of my fellow Americans act so cold-hearted towards people less fortunate than they. They ridicule people working minimum wage jobs—they call these people lazy, yet they work; they live in poverty, but they don’t deserve an increase in wages, they don’t deserve the wealthy’s increase in taxes to sponsor welfare programs that would put food on their tables to feed their families. These proud people sit on their high horses and look down their noses, they preach from their soapboxes that nothing is free when they themselves didn’t obtain their wealth on their own. “For what makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

Remember, God detests the proud, but blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matthew 5:3-12). Blessed are not the proud, blessed are not the boastful, blessed are not the content with their own wealth. Jesus himself said that “it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:21), because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Don’t let your treasure be in your earthly possessions. Humble yourselves; give to your brothers and sisters in need.

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him. (Proverbs 14:31; ESV)

It bears repeating— Everything you have God gave to you. Ecclesiastes 5:19 says, “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.” Honor God with your gift by giving to the needy. This is as much a message for me as it is for you. God is very reciprocal. Serve your brothers and sisters, as you would serve the Lord (Ephesians 6:7). Treat them with love, respect, forgiveness, and kindness, as you would have your Father in heaven do unto you. Give of your heart this holiday season and see if you should not receive a hundredfold from God.

Happy Sunday.