OPINION

Norman: Giving, not receiving, is the way to go

CHARLIE NORMAN

Growing up as only child in a family with modest means, it was easy for me to become selfish with material things or money I might be given. I didn’t have brothers or sisters to have to learn to share with, so it was just natural to want to keep things for myself. 

Charlie Norman

We didn’t have a lot of spending money back then, but my folks would give me a small allowance for chores I’d do around the house. I didn’t like spending/shopping because with my meager savings, I knew it wouldn’t go very far.

No complaints... it’s just the way it was. I don’t think my parents were aware of this selfish attitude that unconsciously just sorta developed in my thinking. I certainly wasn’t aware of it. My parents taught me to be honest and be kind to those less fortunate, for sure.

Certainly, they were good parents, and I never went hungry or lacked for anything I needed. We were just your typical middle-income family of 3. It’s that my good buddy “Ricardo” always seem to have the flashier bike, the bigger toy car set, more expensive shoes.

His haircut cost $1.25  --- now his barber actually put warm shaving cream on the back of his neck and used a straight razor to finish the job! I was so jealous. He never knew.  My haircut cost 85 cents and it looked like it. So over time, I guess, unintentionally I grew to be somewhat stingy, a tightwad if you will.

Never wanting to be that way, I just didn’t realize it. It was in junior high that I remember seeing my mom put $25 in the offering plate each week at church. That was a lot back then for our family whose sole breadwinner (my dad) was an insurance salesman. I thought, boy, we could sure use that money.

I wondered if my dad knew Mom was giving away that much each week? But she knew what she was doing... she was teaching me by example... though it took a transformation in my heart to change my way of thinking.

The Good Lord has a way of doing that, you know. When I gave my life to Him in October 1972, that transformation began. Mom would often remind me with quips of biblically based truths --- ”You know, Son, you can never out-give the Lord,” “Every good thing you have comes from Him,” “God loves a cheerful giver” --- those kind of truisms.

Though it was a slow process for me, I did begin to understand how “it was better to give than to receive.” There’s a spiritual principle at work in the heart that brings deep satisfaction in the experience.

Fast forward some six decades, when my oldest grandson 10 year-old Chaz received a $5 bill as a gift this past Christmas from my 60 year-old “Special Needs” cousin out in Odessa. Patsy lives in a modest (at best) apartment out there and on a very limited income with governmental assistance.

But she’s giver and wanted each of our six grandkids to have a Christmas gift from her. She gave out of her need --- quite the sacrifice indeed. Chaz’s mom explained it all to Chaz and his brothers before they received their money.

A few minutes later she sent me a text of what happened next. She said Chaz came back out of his room about two minutes later sobbing, and she had to pull him aside to inquire of his tears. This was his response, “I feel so bad because Patsy has so little and still wanted to give us something. This is the most precious money I’ve ever been given. I’ve pinned it on my wall to always remind me to be generous with my money.”

Where does that come from? It’s a God thing. An unselfish heart. Parental teaching of the ways of The Giver, that’s where. Makes a proud granddad even prouder. This true anecdote was the best gift I received last Christmas. 

P.S. In the years to come, my grandson Chaz might receive accolades for academic achievements or athletic feats, but it’s these acts and sentiments that I’ll remember and cherish... this inward compassion that warms the heart and never fades away.

Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at chas234@windstream.net.