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In stories about giving, I often hear about the end of a process: a name on a wall, a testimony about tithing, or front page stories about big money gifts. I rarely hear the beginning of that journey. Here is mine.

I was not trained to give money in my family. We were sporadic churchgoers, so the offering plate was not a part of my life. While some in my family were quite generous, it was not something we talked about. As I embarked on a career, I found that I loved working in philanthropy and helping others give. But I had a secret – I really didn’t know how to give myself. I didn’t have a plan. And here’s why: I was scared.

I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough. I was scared that my gift wouldn’t mean anything. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my commitment.

For a long time, fear kept me from making pledges to church and other organizations I loved. It allowed me to push giving down in my budget, after the rent, food, clothes, utilities, restaurants, toys, vacations ... almost everything. My attitude about giving changed slowly. I did not have an epiphany. I got started by making a small pledge to my church and my schools. I was able to fulfill it. I didn’t run out of money. I found that my gift was meaningful. I started doing a little bit more. By the time we joined AHCC, though, I found that I was still holding on to some fear. I felt that I wanted to become a tither, but I was scared – some of those same old fears. It took some education to do it, but it wasn’t more information that I needed – I had to let go of that last vestige of fear.

And faith that God would care for me was the only antidote to that fear. Letting go of these fears around finances and becoming a more generous giver, has taught me how to utilize the power of faith in other parts of my life. A life free of fear because of giving? You better believe it. And I get a “bonus” – knowing that my family’s gifts to the church are doing great work – God’s work – right here, right now.