Lessons in Giving
I grew up poor- maybe not by world standards, but definitely by American standards. I remember going to bed hungry and grocery shopping with pennies. Even though we didn’t have a lot, my mother taught me to give whole-heartedly to others. She lived out her belief that God is the giver of all things and wants us to give to others no matter how little we have. My beliefs are grounded in my childhood memories of her life. Christmas time is full of these vivid memories. My mother saved scraps of fabric and would make blankets or stuffed animals for families in town that she knew couldn’t afford Christmas gifts for their children. She would also make bread or cookies and deliver them to our neighbors on Christmas Eve. She couldn’t give much, but what she gave, she gave whole-heartedly with love.
I am now grown and my mother is gone. My memories of her have grown into deep personal beliefs of my own. I have seen the blessings and peace that comes from giving and now give back to others as well. Every day my life is guided by the belief that in order to be blessed, we must first be a blessing to others. It is still surprising to me how much joy comes from giving to others. Whether it’s giving a gift to my daughter on her birthday or giving my love to a child in another country through a letter and sponsorship or giving my time to be an advocate and speak out for children in poverty, I feel that I receive much more than I give. When I receive a letter from one of my sponsored children that says “You are so special to me”, that encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing.
My daughter is now nine and watches how I live my life. Teaching her to be openly giving and loving to others has been one of the most important gifts I could give her. She is now kind and generous. Already, she has experienced the blessings that are returned when you bless others. She is deeply involved in loving our sponsored children. She writes to them, prays for them, and tells others about them. I have even seen this lesson in caring for others carried over into her day-to-day life. Her teacher told me one day that Raechel played with one of the little boys in the class that everyone else avoided. When I asked her about it, she told me that she understands how if feels to be on the outside and didn’t want him to feel that way. That is true compassion.
I believe that giving to others, whether it is time, a kind word, material things, or love, is the most important thing you can do with your life. It is my prayer that this is what I will be remembered for most when I am gone, just the way I remember my own mother.
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