Updated: Aug 15
I’m going to tell you a secret about my marriage. I could see a gorgeous male model walking down the street, and I could say to Paul, “ Wow, he is stunning.” He wouldn’t think twice, but if I said, “He’s so funny,” it would be a completely different story. The reverse would be true as well.
That’s why I guess it’s a good thing Winston Churchill is no longer among the living because there would be some jealousy concerns and issues at our house. His wit and humor were absolutely amazing.
When I have to define the word tact to an SAT student, I use Churchill’s own words: “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”
At another time Churchill was engaged in an exchange with Lady Nancy Astor, an American-born British politician who was the first woman seated as a Member of Parliament. Her acerbic comment to Churchill, “If I were married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee,” was met with Churchill’s retort, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.”
This week I came across a wonderful line from Churchill. He said he related to the church like a flying buttress: he supported it from the outside. I loved it, but then I started a type of thought - cross-pollination with something else I’ve been thinking on for a while: the act of giving.
Every Sunday, in probably every church in America, the offering plate is passed. Sometimes there is a sales pitch beforehand explaining why you should give if you don’t and why you should give more if you already do.
And for the most part we do. We slip a few dollars in as the plate passes by, or we write a check once a month. A lot of the time we do so because we’re supposed to. Do we want to? Is the desire to give coming from within, or are we, like Churchill, supporting from the outside?
I am lucky to be in two families that love to give gifts. The moment Paul finds my birthday gift, I receive it. It never gets wrapped simply because he can’t wait to see my reaction.
One year, Paul’s brother Edward gave Paul an amazing gift. Because Paul does improv and comedy shows, Edward calls him a clown, and he only does it because he knows it drives Paul nuts. That Christmas there was an immaculately wrapped present. Sticking out of the top of the box was a red clown nose and out of the sides were 2 clown shoes. It wasn't crazy expensive, but it was so well thought out and executed that it has become a classic.
Recently Madi’s grandparents wanted to give her a birthday present before she leaves for a semester abroad. They drove me crazy trying to coordinate a time when we would all be available. When the day finally arrived, they were vibrating with excitement. They could not wait to give it. There's a lot of love being given along with all of these gifts.
Isn’t that the way we should be giving? Excited to do so? Thrilled to share? Andy, the preacher at St. Francis, once said before the collection plate was passed, “Only give if you can give joyfully and from the heart.” I’d never heard a preacher say that, but once you see an example or two of truly joyful giving, you realize that’s the only way it should happen.