It’s been a few weeks since I returned from maternity leave and I’m so glad to be back in the swing of things with you all. It was really important for me to take time with my family this summer, especially with Emmett having special concerns as a premature baby, but I did miss you all terribly. I missed worship, I missed the community time, and I missed my routine.
Between feedings and diaper changes, I’ve spent quite a bit of time these last few months writing thank you notes. People have been so generous in helping us prepare for Emmett’s birth and future. I’m always overwhelmed by the giving nature of my community. I remember when Erik and I were married, I had a hard time making a wedding registry because I felt guilty asking people to buy me things, but I was reminded again and again that people wanted to be part of our story. Family and friends wanted to show their support as we began a new adventure, a new challenge, and they wanted to give back; I heard stories from aunts, and cousins, and family friends about how much they needed their community when they were at my stage in life, and offering me a set of sheets was one way they could show their gratitude for all the support they received over the years. Beginning this new adventure and challenge into parenthood has been no different. It’s amazing to me that at times of life transition we remember how much we need each other, and how deficient our lives would be if we were to try and do this thing called life all alone.
As I’ve been filling my mailbox with thank you letters going out, I’ve been receiving hospital bills coming in. Modern medicine is quite amazing and I’m so glad we had the option of care in the NICU, but of course the expertise comes at a cost. It can feel overwhelming at times to see our savings rapidly depleting all because we decided to do a pretty normal thing—have a child. I probably worry more about personal finances than I should, but in uncertain times like this, I am especially tempted to draw into myself. I ask myself, “Should I stop my charitable giving for a while? Should I stop giving to the church until our expenses go back to normal? Should I hold back my giving in my community, like to the fire department, this year?” I usually decide to wait until I feel less panic. No decision can be a good one when made in the height of fear, I tell myself. And so I wait—and eventually I come to the conclusion that retreating into myself is really not helpful.
There are plenty of ways to be responsible with my financial resources, but quitting my giving is not one of them. The generosity shown to me breeds confidence that I don’t have to be afraid, I’m not facing the future alone, and it launches me into increased giving. It’s actually quite freeing to lean into gratitude and generosity, giving thanks for the abundance I truly do have, and letting go of the fear of the unknown, letting go of the pressure to buy ALL THE THINGS for my son, letting go of the isolation of putting my wants above all else. I find I’m never more content than when I acknowledge the immense gifts I have been given and then sharing those gifts for the betterment of my community and planet.
This fall, in the midst of much uncertainty, I’m choosing to lean into gratitude. I’m choosing to prioritize sharing. I’m choosing to let go of my fear and my greed. I’m choosing to say thank you and pass the generosity forward.
That you may have a joyous, generous, and grace filled fall, I pray.
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Pastor Megan finds that she rarely has all the right answers, but tries to help her community ask better questions.