Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Spirit of Giving

I believe the real spirit of giving is only real if it is closely entwined with believing and accepting.  I believe that giving is hindered by several thought patterns that, though they are perfectly natural, normal, and logical, they are also unfortunate.  For instance, when presented with the opportunity to give to a homeless person on the street, the common thinking is to pass, because that person may use the money for drugs or alcohol.  It’s natural to feel that way, but in so doing, we have missed the true meaning of giving.   

Giving should not involve strings attached.  We should be happy to assist our fellow man when in a position to do so, regardless of whether he will put the reward to good use or squander it.  Because think, perhaps he will squander his blessings.  But maybe later in life, perhaps he will have a reformation and because of the way he was assisted in his past, he will diligently pay it forward.   

When I give, of course I do have an outcome I’d like to see, but I know that is not up for me to decide.  The key part of giving is believing that the outcome will be wonderful, even if the benefit is not immediately apparent.  The giver may never ever be aware of the benefit of his charitable spirit, but mark my words, in some way, the world will be changed and touched by it.   

Another beautiful way to give is to accept.  I have been in the position to need to accept the kindness of strangers, and I believe that in so doing, I was later in life put in the position to be blessed with many, many opportunities to give back.  And believe me, I couldn’t be happier about it!  I give, because I want to be a light in the darkness…

Many amazing and wonderful charities exist to make it easy to give, such as Toys For Tots.  I have some thoughts on things like that as well from a lot time volunteered to charities.  Super famous charities like that are great, and are easy for the community to participate with.  However, due to the huge exposure of these charities, they often receive far more than they need at the time. I wouldn't be surprised if a charity like Toys For Tots has huge warehouses full of toys for years to come...  Yet, children in your own community will still go without because their parents don't know how to receive from this charity.  Sometimes, just a little extra leg work, or just keeping your ears open can open up access to give in a more immediate way to a neighbor right in your community who will treasure your charity forever. 

Or, suppose you have a couple bags of your kids' old outgrown clothing.  Instead of selling them online, or dropping them off in a drop box, perhaps you could consider actually seeking at a person who could use them and just give them away.  I wanted to get rid of three bags of my daughter's clothing.  It would have been easy to just go drop them in a drop box, however, I just knew that there would be somebody in my community who would dearly like to have them.  I listed them on a Facebook yardsale site, and later the same day, a lady picked them up.  She was mystified that I would be just giving these to her, but she was certainly in need of the items.  I later received not one, but two Christmas cards from this lady both including heart felt letters about how much my generosity had meant to her...  Imagine how much more those Christmas cards mean to me, than any money I may have been able to make from my daughter's old clothes.  And obviously, they meant an awful lot to that lady as well!

Giving doesn't have to be about changing the world, or even changing a person's life.  It can just be about affecting one other human being.  It can be about giving them a smile.  Giving them peace.  Making them believe again.