If your morning is starting with a dining room table full of receipts and tax forms, then it is likely that you are part of the more than 30% of Americans who wait until the last two weeks before the tax deadline to complete their filing. And if you have waited this long, it is probably because you owe, or fear you owe additional taxes that you will have to pay. And you’re probably not too happy about it.
“God loves a cheerful giver,” the Bible reminds us, but this form of “forced giving” is difficult to be happy about.
You can look at this task as bureaucratic drudgery or as an opportunity to develop a better understanding of the nature of giving, and how it connects us as community. In this way, giving is a never a sacrifice, but an enrichment to our lives and the lives of others.
Here are some thoughts to prepare your heart to prepare your taxes.
• Everything you own will someday be given away. The money and belongings in your life are temporary. They will touch other lives at some point in time, either by choice or design. Trust the circulation of sharing in the Universe that is natural and benevolent. Just as some things leave you, other things will come to take their place, and you will always have exactly what you need.
• You can set your own intentions for your gifts. As you write your check, meditate on how it will be used. Will it buy hungry children a school lunch? Will it help to pave a road in a rural community? Will it be used to provide health care to an elderly person? Mentally watch your dollars floating to the people who need it most, and imagine how your check will completely transform their lives. You may never meet these people, but your gift connects you to them.
• Learn from your negative feelings about taxes. If despite your best attempts to change your frame of thinking about paying taxes, they still make you feel surly, then those emotions are there to point to a greater purpose for you. Take some time to think about what they mean. Do you need to release issues of fear surrounding money? Are you being called to be more involved in the processes that determine how tax dollars are collected and used? Being and staying angry won’t help anyone. Taking action certainly will.
Being a cheerful giver isn’t always an automatic and easy process. Sometimes we have to make a conscious effort to bring our minds, souls and hearts to that place. Once we are there, we see the world from a different perspective. No one is out to get us, nothing is ever lost, and giving doesn’t make us weak. When we get ourselves to the place where we can give cheerfully, we become more courageous, appreciative, and assured. We feel peace.
We are called by community to give in many different ways, including paying our taxes. The simple choice to understand this, believe it, marvel at it, and live it might actually make April 15 a very joyous day of the year.