Posts Tagged ‘giving’

Giving

Sometimes there are events and incidents where you see your own limitations exposed, laid out all too clearly.

I have never been a particularly generous person. Growing up, it wasn’t demonstrated; parsimony runs pretty strongly through both sides of my family of origin.  Still, it sis possible to change, to learn hot to be so thigh hearted.

Over the past 10 years, I have learned to be better at giving, learned to be more generous, learned to think of others.  My friend Doug demonstrated it quietly when my men’s group met, by paying the bill or by leaving a 200% tip for the waitress. I learned too, from a friend who had been in the service industry and taught me to say a kind word and think of the servers and waitresses, their meager paychecks and difficult jobs.

I thought progress had been made. At least until…..

I was having a Starbucks with a friend, sitting outside the Mall on a chilly but sunny afternoon.  To my surprise (because we don’t expect this in Columbia, especially at the Mall) a man approached, asking for money. Now, while he looked a “panhandler” type, I though, “Okay, if he needs food let’s go inside and get him something to eat”. I was willing to help, but on my terms.  My friend was quicker, however.  She asked him his name, reached into her purse, quickly handed him a bill (I think it was a twenty) and told him  that there was no judgement on how he needed it, that she hoped it would help, and that he’d have a better rest of the day.

Instead of feeling generous with my thought of action, I realized how parsimonious I still was. I was willing to help, but only on my terms of basic need and in a way that I controlled.  My friend responded with openness, faith and charity that allowed him the freedom to use it as needed…for good or not, but as he saw fit.  And maybe with her attitude, it would encourage him to use it for need.  It was a surprising interaction.

I hope to do better next time the situation arises.

Holiday Thoughts

The holidays have come and gone, the last remnants of lights disappearing from the houses of those reluctant to lose the spirit of the season.  Since I didn’t decorate, there’s been no need to un-decorate, and so instead I thought about the time and what I learned.

thoughts

First, holidays are about others.  Until this year there was always a piece that involved receiving, but this year even that last tiny portion disappeared.  I’ve been discovering for the last few years that the best parts of gifts and giving was trying to find a gift that surprised or met a need. This year it came with a gift of a book to a friend who didn’t know I’d been paying attention, and to a late gift of 45’s (yes, records believe it or not!) that brought back good memories for someone.

I also discovered that the time can be highly productive.  Without having work lurking in the back of my mind (because almost all projects slowed to a frozen-molasses crawl during the last three weeks of December) I became free to focus on the things that I had been putting off for weeks or months but that I’d not had the energy to tackle.  From cleaning out closets to building new shelves, framing pictures, and catching up on reading, a whole list of things was accomplished.  (A word of caution however; don’t save it all for one week! I was exhausted after the first five days because I was doing so much!  Fortunately I had a couple of extra days to recover).

Finally, I acknowledged yet again that there is a difference between alone and lonely….although sometimes I don’t realize it until it’s too late.  Many of the days of tasks were done alone, and there were a couple of days that I probably didn’t speak to anyone because I was in the apartment taking care of things.  But while that’s good, the alone times tend to morph and change and become lonely times. And in the cold of winter darkness that can be especially trying.

Clearly this post has been percolating for a bit, because the holidays I’m talking about were Christmas and New Year, not Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day!