It was a damp, winter day, and I had little to do inside my undersized, cramped room. “Amanda,” my mom called up the stairs, “I’m heading over to MUST ministries to feed the homeless some supper. Do you want to join me?” Since I had nothing better to do on that December evening, I reluctantly climbed into my mom’s Nissan Xterra and headed over to the homeless shelter, a place I was quite familiar with.
As soon as we arrived, I began to serve a warm meal to each of the residents anxiously waiting in line. Amongst the people waiting to be served were many polished, smiling faces; yet, there were also a fair amount of grungy, frowning faces mixed in. One man in particular stood out to me; he seemed to be by himself- no family members were standing around him, yet he had a grin plastered on his face. As I slopped rice atop his tortilla, he looked me in the eyes and whispered, “Thank you for doing this. It means a lot to me, and I’m sure it means a lot to you too.”
That was it. I finally understood it. This stranger, a homeless man that I had never met before, helped me reach an epiphany that changed me forever.
Throughout my life, my parents preached the importance of doing good deeds for other people. Every day, I look for ways to go a little out of my way to lend a hand. I may aid someone with something minor, like returning a dropped book to its rightful owner amongst the hoards of people in the crowded hallways of my high school. Or, it may be something much more important, like helping to teach an underdeveloped toddler how to talk.
The quick smiles or brief “thank-you’s” from the people that I helped out were enough of a reward to show me that I was doing the right thing. But was that the real reason that I continued to help other people? No. It wasn’t. When that man told me that it must make me feel good to do help others, I suddenly realized what he meant. I helped other people because it ultimately helped me; it made me feel good about myself when I realized that I was doing good things for other people. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t come to this conclusion sooner. As selfish as it seemed, I had to be honest with myself.
I believe in helping others. I don’t believe in it solely because I enjoy making others happy. I believe in helping others because I also enjoy making myself happy.
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