Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom – The Lesson of the Widow’s Mite

Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom


He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on. Mark 12:41–44

This Bible lesson has been instrumental in my decluttering process because it encourages me to be generous. In fact, my simple, and completely non-elegant interpretation of this passage is “It’s okay to be generous.” That, my readers, is a lesson I had to learn.

I don’t think that I was a selfish person or especially a greedy one, and I’ve always had a thrift store give away bag in my closet, but while I was okay giving fairly small, low-value items away, I definitely had trouble giving away things of larger monetary value.

It’s okay to be generous.

I confronted my reluctance head on when I was cleaning out Audra’s closet. I had a large box of out-grown clothes, and two sisters across the street who are two and four years younger than Audra, yet it was so hard for me to let go of that box of clothing to them. I thought about how their father, a lawyer, certainly made enough money to clothe them himself. I thought about how they weren’t good enough friends to deserve my largess. Then I thought It’s okay to be generous. I’m embarrassed to tell you how hard it was to let that first box go.

I would be lying if I told you that I no longer sell anything on Craiglist or Ebay and that I happily give everything away. I like to recoup some of my investment if I can. But I no longer have trouble giving things away – to friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, charity. Because it’s okay to be generous, sharing your blessings feel good, and there are countless non-tangible rewards for generosity.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a book or maybe two or more.

Remember the November Keep it Tidy Challenge

Today’s Declutter Item

I was hoping my daughter would relinquish more books from the childhood stash but this was all she was prepared to part with but that is OK. I am hoping all her ducks will fall into line by midyear and she will have a home of her own where I can happily transport all her stuff to the is cluttering up my house. Cross your fingers for me! Oh, and her of course.

An eclectic selection of books

Eco Tip for the Day

Give consumable gifts. Preferably one from sustainable sources.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  1. Cindy, I love this post. I think this is one of the areas where Mom and I disagree. I have no problem giving anything I have away. She wants to sell it. We are getting better at it.

  2. You and your Mom are constantly moving forward Deb, and you’re doing a good job leading by example.

  3. After many years of yard sales where the folks that came really only wanted something for nothing, I started donating my things to GoodWill or Salvation Army. They both have stores where people can buy things they need and I can get a tax deduction. Now we don’t even get that deduction because we don’t have the minimum amount to deduct but that is okay because I know they are going to be used by someone. The time and effort for a yard sale in my neighborhood never nets me as much money as the effort I put into it so the donations work well. I just put the things on the porch with a sign and they are picked up by the organization. We have left everything from clothes to kitchen items to furniture and most things are taken. This really is an easy way to declutter and I feel good knowing that good use will be made of the items. When my Mother-in-law died, we took nearly all of her household items to GoodWill and they were glad to have them. It took many trips but again, we did get the satisfaction of knowing that they would be used again and hopefully, loved.

  4. Thank you for that post.
    This has been holding me back a couple of times, but usually, I’ve always overcome it. Even though I don’t have much money, I figure that through these donations to charity stores and the like, I can actually help raise money for people in need. So, if I just don’t come round selling something, I just donate it. It’s better if it serves someone else than if it just sits in a corner, unneeded.
    But it’s not only about monetary value. I learnt a lot last year when friends of us were leaving Germany and my boyfriend gave them some of his inherited “treasures” (not very valuable, but sentimental items) and a toy he’d saved from his childhood without blinking an eye, when they showed that they liked them. His little wooden train he had saved for 25 years is now being played with by a little girl in Japan. I love this ability to give so freely without considering the “loss”, but only the happy faces of the receivers. I try very much to do the same and not let opportunities to make people happy slip by.

    • Yes Sanna I am much the same. My husband does’nt like the idea of a yardsale or garage sale as we call it here in OZ. But knowing someone is using what I donated gives a good feeling .

  5. Also, we never really know someone’s financial bottom line. The people with the best jobs may be supporting extended family, or have incurred debt in previous years through job loss or illness, or something else they do not share as public knowledge. Or all members of the family may not get a fair share of the breadwinner’s income. One never knows. Those little girls got to see generosity in action too.

    • You’re absolutely right Jo. At some point, I learned that all the attorneys in his firm had taken significant pay cuts in order to keep all the attorneys and support staff employed during the recession. While I’m still sure that he could have clothed his children, not having to surely was a small relief. Plus my girls and I love to see the little girls wearing hand-me-downs, and the little girls love getting things from Clara and Audra, whom they worship.

  6. Thank you for the post today, certainly hit home. No matter what financial situation you are in, give of what you have with a generous heart, without expecting anything in return. Truly though, when you do give, I agree, you always receive something in return. The return may not always be financial, but the good feeling that you get when you give something (material possessions or time, etc.) cannot be measured. Let us never forget that it is better to give than to receive.

    I grew up without a lot of material possessions and worked for most everything that I did have even as a young child. I was fortunate to have relatives and friends who were generous to me with basic necessities, like clothing, and even food, therefore, that is why I give. I have always been a giver, but as of late I have become gladly overly generous because of my excess. I don’t think it matters to whom you give either, whether it is someone who is in obvious need or someone who may appear to need for nothing. If you give out of the generosity of your heart, it will come back to you ten fold in one way or another.

    I have given many things to friends and much to charity, but I have sold some things too. I agree with the comment from Maggie most people want to find that great deal for next to nothing at yard sales, sometimes it is better to sell things on e-bay, etc. to recoup your investment.

  7. We had given a few items to a family friend who expressed quite an interest in some things from my deceased Mom-in-law’s house. This gal was quite clear that those particular items were near & dear to her heart & reminded her so much of my mom-in-law & it meant the world to her if she could have a few momentos to forever remind her of her friend.
    So we did give her those items.
    However, both my husband & I had a sneakin’ suspicion that she was not being on the up & up because she wouldn’t hold her gaze & look us in the eye when she waxed poetic about my Mom-in-law.
    So for giggles, I set up a eBay watch for those particular items & sure enough, within the month, those particular items were listed by a eBay seller in that town.
    We thought about confronting her about it, but decided against it as we did choose to give her those items & thus relinquished ownership. But still it was irksome.

    • Jane – I know what you mean about relinquished ownership, but its more of a case of this woman misrepresenting her intentions. If she’d gotten the items home and realised she didn’t have a place for them or whatever reason, it would have been appropriate for her to offer them back to you. Still, what goes around, comes around and in someway life has bitten her on the bum in some way, just a pity you don’t get to witness the karmic justice system at work.

      • The way I see it is that those particular items weren’t meaningful to us let alone worth very much (it appeared she only netted about $47 US) on Ebay.
        Obviously she must have thought them to be originals & not reproductions. Mostly 70’s era tchotchkes & mass-produced vases. That’s bad karma enough that she thought anything from the 70’s might be of value. Well except maybe Jim Rockford’s answering machine! LOL

  8. Hi Cindy. I can relate to the felling of not wnating to let something go. But if we feel that we have no use for the stuff, giving it up shouldn’t be so hard. I had some difficult times parting with, you would be amazed, china. Yes, plates and cups and some old silverware on the side. I was not using it, I did not need it, but it was “mine” (kind like “Lord of the Rings” 😀 ). I decided that I knew people that would get better use out of it. Nice people that I know and like. Or they can sell or give it away to people they know. I just stopped thinking about the stuff as “mine”. My stuff I bought or was gifted it or whatever. But, I thought, without previous knowledge, what you said: It’s okay to be generous. And after the stuff was gone I don’t remember it anymore. And I feel relieved. As for your neughbour, the lawyer, we never know what is going on in other peoples lives. As you pointed out he could and would clothe his girls, as would any of us. But believe me some nice clothes hand over can help a lot.

    • Hi Cindi, when my aunt died and I had to clear her flat I asked different neighbours of hers that came to see me to give me their condolenses if they would like or need any of the furniture that I or my family were’nt going to be able to use. One neighbour asked for her cabinet that had glass mirrors and holds nice ornaments, wine glasses et. I freely gave it to her and my son & his friend who were helping me took it straight up to her flat. she was so pleased to have it and it suited her other furniture as well. She rang her sister straight away while we were there and told her about. She also asked if I wanted any money for it as it was like new , I answered noI just wanted it to go to someone who it would help and it did.

  9. One of the things that helped me donate even expensive things was that I realized I was donating money to good causes -so why not donate the expensive things so that the charity can make some money selling them? This also saves me the nuisance of selling the things. (And then donating the money haha!)

  10. I find that when I am generous it always seems to come back to you in some way. It’s like when you do something for someone, you feel so good inside and you are blessed too!

  11. Thanks Cindy – on Sunday/Monday night (confused by crossing time zones) I set some new goals, including to be more generous. Just yesterday I got a presentation from someone from the pcyc, and I committed to a weekly pay roll deduction – step in the right direction! Thanks for reinforcing my goal

  12. The church consignment shop left a message to pick up my check–no mention of if I wanted what didn’t sell back or to donate. So I mulled this over. When I got the check, there was no mention by them or by me. I really didn’t want it back, or have to try to sell it another way, so was kind of relieved to make a silent donation. I didn’t need or want it in the first place, or I wouldn’t have taken it in, and I did sell enough to feel it had been worth the effort, and even though some of what I hoped would sell didn’t, some of what I surely planned to donate had sold, so I guess it all balanced out. I certainly gained some space in the closet plus some money. This was kind of a funny situation and I guess I made a “chicken” decision.