This I Believe

Merry - Hampton, Virginia
Entered on April 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

“The Priceless Offering”

I know that we come to believe in things because of the lessons that people and circumstances teach us. One of my dearest beliefs I learned from watching my greatest teachers: my parents. They taught me to believe in the power of generosity.

My dad is beyond thrifty, he is down right miserly. We had second-hand and reduce-priced everything, not because we couldn’t afford it, but because my dad refused to pay full price. In an effort to search out the best deals, my parents took up going to estate auctions on weekends. Auctions were absolutely ideal for my dad because he could decide exactly what he thought something was worth, and what he was willing to pay for it. During summers, my sister and I spent every Saturday morning listening to the nasal rapid fire of an auctioneer’s song over a speaker humming in increments of 5 dollar bids for someone else’s memories. I remember at one particular auction as we rummaged through tangles of gaudy jewelry that had belonged to some old lady, mom came across a special ring. My mother’s hands are large with large knuckles that are not dainty. Her hands are ones that only life can earn. Not many rings fit Mama, but this one did. It was set in a silver metal with sparkly stones all around. It was large enough not to look out of place on Mama’s hands. She adored it, big and sparkly just like Elizabeth Taylor. No one knew what the ring was worth, and so Daddy was less than comfortable buying jewelry that was probably worthless. He unenthusiastically won the bid to please Mama. She was thrilled to have her own ring, fake or not. Later she had the ring appraised and found out every stone in it was a real diamond set in white gold. It was worth many times what had been paid for it. Needless to say Daddy was pleased.

Some years later our church was raising money and Mama felt guilty for having something so lavish as a big diamond ring when so many had so little. Without anyone seeing, Mama slipped off the ring, her precious Liz Taylor ring, and anonymously dropped it into the offering plate. When Daddy questioned why she wasn’t wearing her ring, she tearfully confessed what she had done- just given away something so valuable. You see my dad realized what the ring meant to my mom- how proud she had been of it, and the sacrifice it must have been for her to drop it into that offering plate. Daddy quietly went to the pastor and paid the appraisal price to buy the ring back. Daddy holds the purse-strings tightly when it comes to some things and is quite generous when it comes to others, and so I know the sacrifice it must have taken for him to have paid not once but twice for my mother’s ring.

My parents used their lives as living lessons. I believe in generosity because I grew up seeing it, and I am rich for it.