Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Living a Cheerful and Generous Life

Last year, at a wedding with my husband, I sat next to a family friend. It wasn't until this wedding that I was able to put my finger on why his family was always so much fun to be around. It’s because he is authentic and generous with himself. He is… a cheerful giver.

I recognized his cheerful giving during the toast portion of the evening. Every once in a while, you get that heartfelt amazing wedding speech that has you laughing and crying and applauding. Most of the time, though, you get the person who is clearly uncomfortable speaking to a group, but because he/she is the best friend of the bride/groom he/she HAS to give the toast, and he/she is trying WAY too hard to get a few laughs. Well, we were enduring the latter, and this is where our friend came in. You see, he has this beautiful, deep PA announcer voice that rings through a crowd and a booming hearty laugh that catches fire to those around him. He knows his voice and laugh are powerful instruments, and he used them that night to encourage the poor toast-giver who was bombing.

When the speaker paused for laughs that weren’t happening, my friend threw a hearty chuckle his way, repeating the punchline… and soon laughter began to creep through the crowd. The speaker delivered his next joke, and our friend dropped another sincere guffaw and laughter swept through the people. Soon, the toast was a success, and we moved on to dinner and dancing. 

Without our friend’s generosity of laughter, the poor guy would’ve completely bombed at his best friend’s wedding. I mean, it wouldn’t be as bad as running out of wine, but still…

Jimmy Fallon is another person who is like this. There’s a reason why everybody loves this guy, right? He is generous with himself. He is generous with his personality, his laugh, his enthusiasm and spirit. He is generous with his excitement and with encouragement. He is open and genuine. He cheerfully gives himself to the rest of us for our entertainment.

There’s this part of the Jimmy Fallon episode of “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” where they are on Jerry Seinfeld’s boat, and Jimmy Fallon just stands up on the boat and hollers out, “This is the best day ever!!!” And it makes me so happy. 

Isn’t it awesome to be around people who stand up and shout, “This is the best day ever!”? 

Doesn’t it make life better to be around people like that? Doesn’t it make life better to be around people who share the joy they have? Doesn’t it make life better when others are generous with their laughter and encouragement? Doesn't it feel good to be around people who shower others with grace and love?

And while I do think that God was talking about seeds and money in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, he was also talking about standing up in a boat and shouting, “This is the best day ever!!!”  

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

You see, I make exactly zero dollars as a stay at home mom. 

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be generous. I can give my time and attention wherever God calls it. I can laugh at every one of my husband's jokes. 

I can shower everyone I meet with kindness and love and grace. 

I can sprinkle seeds of encouragement to every mom I see struggling. I can sprinkle seeds of forgiveness every time my kid messes up. I can sow compassion around every corner and ring a cowbell for every person I see gutting it out on that difficult mile of their race. 

I can be generous with zero dollars. It’s as simple as hollering out a “Woooohooo” on the ski slopes as you fly down the run or saying the words out loud when you think your friend looks cute in that top or telling your kid’s teacher that he/she is doing an incredible job. It’s as simple as saying “I would love to!” when your kid asks if you will play a game with him. Which, incidentally, is happening right now, so I gotta go.

Sow generously, friends. Give money cheerfully, but give yourself cheerfully too. A life full of hearty chuckles and joyful woohoos awaits. 

Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time. 


  1. This is great Emily! I especially love the way you talk about how we can give generously with zero dollars!