By: Aubrie Faust, Director of Missionary Formation
It was early spring a few years ago, and I remember preparing to go to confession on Ash Wednesday. As I was praying and reflecting before going to the sacrament, the Lord showed me a sin I was struggling with that I had never before recognized: greed.
I had never thought of myself as greedy before. I had never considered the way I pursued my desire for material goods as disordered. Everyone around me was also wanting for things: vacations, new clothes, new shoes, new cell phone, etc. My friends were keeping up with all the latest trends and must-have consumer goods. My parents didn’t just hand me everything I wanted, but truthfully, I was pretty much always able to get it at the end of the day. I’m not talking about five star all-inclusive vacations in the Caribbean, but that new pair of Uggs that I had been wanting for months usually found their way under the Christmas tree. And that was just normal. I mean, I had an awareness of course that there were people less fortunate than me financially, but I didn’t see it all too often. I wasn’t affected by it in my heart. I was settled in to the fact that my parents worked hard, I worked hard, and it was more than acceptable to enjoy the fruits of that and not think too much about it. I gave a lot of myself to the church and my community through volunteering my time doing music ministry and through being a part of the Biking for Babies Executive Team. I had a career as a middle school teacher and I always tried to go above and beyond in service to my students. I gave weekly at church and occasionally to causes that really pulled on my heartstrings. That was enough, right?
Looking back now, I can see that greed was an almost subconscious part of my disposition. It blinded me from having the realization that I did in fact have too much stuff. That I did not need to buy another new sweatshirt. That I could choose to eat the food I had at home instead of buying something else that sounded better to me at the moment. It blinded me from seeing that I actually wasn’t entitled to anything, even if I had worked for it. My desire for material goods was crowding out an eagerness to be generous and charitable, and to be truly thankful for what I had been gifted by God.
That first Lent that I realized this deeply-rooted, elusive sin in my life I did not do much to change. I resolved to give away one item from my closet each week as part of my Lenten practices. That was all fine and good, but it was not attacking the root of my sin. Giving away a few extra things was easy to do. It didn’t inspire a real change of heart or growth in virtue.
I had a deeper moment of conviction about my lack of generosity a few months ago. I was transitioning from being a middle school teacher to being the third full-time staff member of Biking for Babies. Once I received my first paycheck it just hit me with such clarity. I now completely depend on other people’s generosity to support the mission of Biking for Babies in order to do the day-to-day work that I do, that I love, and that I believe God has called me to. Financial gifts allow me to pour into our formation program and the missionaries, which are all efforts aimed at renewing the culture of life. With being the full-time Director of Missionary Formation, I depend on the generosity of others to literally pay my bills. Of course, I knew this factually before taking the job, but I didn’t consider it in my heart. Generosity of others is now literally my financial life-blood. Thank God for the many mission partners of Biking for Babies who have responded to the need to renew the culture of life through their support of Biking for Babies! The question naturally arose: “how could I be so hypocritical and not myself give financially in an intentional and regular manner?”
This thought, which I am sure was inspired by the Holy Spirit, fueled me to take action and begin my own monthly charitable giving. The feeling I had after the first time I made a substantial donation to my church, instead of just a few bills out of my wallet on Sundays, was one of such peace. It reminded me that truly what I have is the Lord’s and that I need to be a good steward of it. It showed me that I should look for ways to act with a generous spirit and rejoice knowing that when I do respond with generosity, I am doing the Lord’s work.
This is my hope for all the missionaries who are formed by Biking for Babies: that they are convicted to respond generously to the needs around them. This may not always be financially, but when it is, I pray they are able to find joy in giving.
If you are inspired to support the mission of Biking for Babies, please visit www.bikingforbabies.com/give.