Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Learning to Give

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know that I recently posted a review on the book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker (read that review here), and that I subsequently signed up for the 29 gifts challenge myself. I am now 2 weeks into that challenge and I’d like to share some observations and thoughts.

First off, the challenge hasn’t proven to be life changing or anything drastic like that. At least not so far. But what it has done is helped me to realize two things. First, I discovered that I already was a giver (albeit small gifts typically). It didn’t take long into the challenge to realize my gifts tend to be things I do for people, rather than items purchased and gifted. Like preparing or sharing a special dinner, or doing things for people (typing, giving small change when needed, taking time to spend with loved ones, etc.).

Secondly, it has helped me open my eyes and to look more for opportunities to gift and give. While I still need help in this area and sometimes I swear I have on blinders, this challenge has helped simply by getting me in the habit of thinking about giving on a daily basis.

There hasn’t been a gift that stands out above the others. In fact, one of my most recent gifting highlights is prior to my taking this challenge. We were leaving church one Sunday, and on the corner stood a man, begging. Now so often, I’m embarrassed to admit this, I drive by, wondering if that person has a true need or if they are using the money they receive for drugs or alcohol. I mean, how does one know?

But that Sunday we stopped. We gave the man $3, and a baggy of cookies and brownies we had with us in the car. Not much. But his smile and gratitude was immeasurable. I figure it would buy the man a hamburger at the nearby McDonald’s and give him a sweet treat. And whether his need was legitimate or not, it felt good to help and offer something. And really, who am I to judge his need?

While I don’t often have cash on me (or cookies and brownies), I do typically have spare change, and I hope to become a more giving and less judging person. And I think daily practice and looking for opportunities to give will help. The 29 gifts challenge is really a great movement, and I invite and encourage everyone interested to read the book and sign up for the challenge. I can’t imagine anyone would be disappointed.