giving is its own reward

edwin - brooklynpark, Minnesota
Entered on March 14, 2008

I believe in the ancient saying, “giving is its own reward”. When you give freely of yourself, you receive so much more in return. Sacrificial giving rids us of the need to cling to material goods, takes the focus of oneself, gives us feelings of peace and makes the world a more loving place.

I believe each of us should be engaged in acts of sacrificial giving, not as a one-time effort, but as a life-long process. A little over a year ago, I left my job to go back to school. It wasn’t easy because I knew I was going to miss the company of co-workers who had become an important part of my life, not to mention that I was also going to be taking a significant pay cut, but I hoped to secure a part-time gig to support myself as I attended grad school. On my last day at work, Sara, an older and very kind lady who sat next to me, ‘colluded’ with my other team members in throwing a surprise farewell party for me. They also gave me a care package that included a couple of gift cards and cash. I was greatly touched by this very thoughtful gesture and vowed to keep in touch with everyone as we parted ways.

As months went by and the demands of school grew on me, we lost touch. Most of my energies were devoted to my studies and to my job search that turned out to be harder than I had anticipated. One day I bumped into an ex co-worker who informed me that Sara had suffered a stroke some months back and didn’t work there anymore. I was guilt-laden as I picked up the phone to call her knowing I hadn’t kept my word to stay in touch. But when she answered the phone, her voice was ever so sweet and forgiving as she reassured me that she was almost fully recovered from the stroke. The next day, I took up her invitation to visit her at home. She appeared as radiant as before- the only difference was that her speech was slightly slurred and her gait was a little unsteady. But we had a great time catching up.

Shortly after this, I landed the job I was searching for. More importantly, Sara and I decided to be getting together more often. So now, every Tuesday morning, I go over to her condo and help her with her household chores and she helps me by making these sumptuous meals that keep me going all day at school. It is always rewarding to listen as she shares a lifetime of wisdom and experience with me. On the surface, we have very little in common- she’s a 70 year old Jewish widow and I am a 30 year old African man, but in those moments when we engage in sacrificial giving, our common humanity connects us, and our differences don’t seem to matter.