A Gift That Costs You Nothing to Give

I shared about the unexpected and unplanned purchase of our Honda Odyssey, and how God blessed me with a vehicle that I am committed to use to bless others.

After last week’s story, I’ve gotten a number of requests to pick up donations. I’m on it! I’m delighted to partner with other organizations and ensure the donations get to those who need them!

So thank you to everyone that has identified ways to help out those that are in need. There is a quote I once read – I tried in vain to find it online to properly give credit to the author of these amazing words, but I was not successful. The usually reliable Google let me down big time! In essence, it was a great philosophy on giving:

I seem to have more than I need, and you seem to have less than you need, so I will share my excess with you, so that your needs can be met.

I definitely paraphrased here, but that’s the foundation I use in regard to my charitable giving. In a world that is constantly encouraging and enticing us to satisfy our own wants and desires, it takes intention to also consider the well-being of others.

That’s why I’m delighted to share the story of a couple that I encountered a few weeks ago, which was centered on that same beloved Odyssey. Despite my gushing of its attributes, I must admit that I have struggled in one area – parking!

My mini-van is bigger than my previously smaller SUV, which I could whip in and out of parking spaces, and parallel park like a pro. This Odyssey? Not so much.

On occasion I’ve had to make a couple of attempts while parking in tighter spots or give up all together and park further away in a spot that has adjacent empty spaces. And parallel parking on the busy streets of Philadelphia? UGH! I have to allow 20 minutes extra time so I can circle blocks and find a spot that I feel comfortable attempting.

Honestly, I was getting more relaxed, and thought I finally had a handle on parallel parking. I always used the way they taught me in driving school, pulling up next to the car on the right of me, and then putting the car in reverse and cutting at the appropriate angles. Standard parking procedures, right?

On a rare free Saturday afternoon, I was out running errands. For some strange reason that I still cannot explain, I decided to parallel park by coming in from the front and adjusting once I was in the space. I started off fine, but when it was time to pull my rear in, I heard the horrifying sound of metal against metal.

My heart pounding, I finish parking, and then got out the van to look at the damage. I had just sideswiped someone’s new car! I looked around but no one was on the street, so I took pictures on my phone and left my name and an apologetic and contrite message on my Destined 4 the Dub business card and tucked it inside their windshield wiper.

I went home dreading the call that would soon come and tried to imagine how much the damage would be.

“Please Lord”, I prayed as the hours ticked away. “Be merciful to me and handle this. You know what I can afford with the holidays coming up, I trust you. Please help me not to worry about this.”

As I fought off nervousness while waiting on the call, I reached out to the local police station and explained the situation – how I left my number and hadn’t received a call, but I wanted them to know that I provided my information.

The officer asked if I had a license plate. In my haste I took pictures of the damage, but it only contained the partial plate tag. He took my contact information and told me he’d let me know if anyone inquired about the incident.

Sunday came and went with no call, and I started to relax a bit, grateful that maybe the owner saw my card, possibly read my blog, and decided to have mercy on me.

But then on Monday morning, an unfamiliar number showed on my phone. The gentleman on the other end was pleasant and explained his wife saw my card when she turned her wipers on that morning.

They hadn’t noticed the damage but were thankful that I had left my information. I apologized profusely and told him to please send me the bill for the damage. He responded that he’d discuss it with his wife and get back to me.

More waiting…

Finally a couple of days later, he called back. He informed me that his wife was not going to get the bumper fixed as it was only cosmetic damage, and not to worry about it. And ended the call with “so Happy Holidays to you” as if it was their gift to me.

And what a gift it was! Even though I had caused damage to their property, these complete strangers showed me mercy and grace by not having me compensate them for my poor decision that fateful day.

The moral of my story? Charitable giving doesn’t always mean tangible things. You have an unlimited supply of grace and mercy that you can give this holiday season.

Begin with today’s Steady State verse and ensure you have plenty of compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience before you walk out the door. All of these gifts are rooted in humility and will produce grace.

Grace for that relative who may say or do hurtful or insensitive things at the next family gathering, or during unavoidable interactions in the upcoming weeks (exes included here!)

Grace for the slow cashier who is working her 3rd job to provide for her family – no matter how long you’ve been waiting in line, be sure to offer her a smile when you finally reach the register.

Grace for that person in the parking lot who stole your parking spot. Just let it go while clenching your teeth and resist the urge to honk, scream, or take that hand off the wheel and display an ugly gesture with those fingers. They’ll never know the restraint you displayed, but you’ll make God smile.

And speaking of parking, definitely show grace to that hapless woman driving the mini-van who may be holding you up while she attempts to parallel park into that space. For the 3rd time.

She just might be me.


In this season of Thanksgiving, consider showing grace to others as a way of thanking God for the grace He has showed you.

Look for an opportunity to show grace, or has one already presented itself and is waiting on you to respond?

Feel free to share your response in the comments section…

Published by Tonya May Avent

Child of God. Wife of 20 years to basketball fanatic and coach. Mom to teenage daughters and amazing athletes. Tonya is an award-winning author whose writing has been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guideposts magazine. Her first book, Using God’s Playbook for the Game of Life: 52 Scriptures Your Young Athlete Should Know Before Sending Them Off Into the World was released in October 2022.

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