As I was walking to class on Tuesday afternoon I happened to smile at a young woman standing in the middle of the path in front of me. “Do you want to help save the California State Parks?” she immediately asked. Shoot. I’m not good at getting out of these situations. I can’t even hang up on sales calls. It’s seriously a problem. I know what you all are thinking: “It’s easy. Just don’t make eye contact, don’t smile, just walk on.” But it’s not that simple for me. First, I just like smiling—smiling’s my favorite. Second, I am sympathetic to the plight of these people; no one likes to be ignored, so I smile at them and then get sucked in. Maybe if I had been looking at the ground, I would have only glimpsed her REI hiking boots as I walked past, but it was too late for that.
The young woman—Annie—introduced herself and her cause. I listened, nodding along and smiling or looking concerned in all the appropriate places before getting the chance (and the nerve) to say “No thanks, I can’t give any money today, but good luck.” She nodded her head in understanding. “It’s difficult when you’re a student. I just had to cancel my Netflix subscription to keep up my monthly pledge, which was super hard, but when you think about what’s really important, the decision’s easier, right?” “Yah, that’s true,” I agreed.
Her words stayed with me as I walked away. I was struck by Annie’s commitment to this cause and her willingness to sacrifice something important to her for something she felt was of greater importance. Donating money from a cancelled Netflix subscription might not seem like a large sacrifice to some, but it struck me as very significant. When confronted with Annie’s sacrifice, I felt really convicted. Recently I have found myself in several different situations that have made me think about the nature of sacrificing, giving, and being generous. I realized that I had been silently making excuses for why I could not sacrifice more for God and the Church. I don’t have money right now—I’m living paycheck to paycheck. I just had to buy books and pay tuition. The list goes on. After my conversation with Annie, I realized how hollow those excuses actually are.
I do live paycheck to paycheck, but I also still have a Netflix subscription. Annie’s sacrifice might not be the right choice for me, but it certainly made me think. I read once that a life incapable of significant sacrifice is incapable of courageous action. If Annie is willing to sacrifice Netflix to save the California State Parks, I as a follower of Christ can make a similar significant sacrifice for the kingdom of God. What about all the money I spend in coffee shops? I don’t have much to begin with, but giving up one chai latte a week would be a good place to start.
Author: Alicia McClintic