We were able to facilitate a nice surprise for our friends this weekend - not a material gift, but the unexpected gift of time with someone they loved. Yesterday afternoon I was positively giddy with excitement about it, so happy that things had turned out just as I planned, that this couple whom we've come to care about so much would have this opportunity. "When you get older," Jim said, "you realize it's more fun to be the giver."
He's quite right. Making someone else happy lifted my spirits, gave me a huge sense of accomplishment, and brightened my outlook on life in general. It blessed me, in the best possible way.
Of course, I'm one of the world's biggest people pleasers. Practically everything I do is designed to win the approval of someone or other. It's a trait that gets me into trouble sometimes - okay, oftentimes. But usually my people-pleasing involves me doing something I don't really want to do - like taking on extra work assignments, or joining groups, or going to restaurants I really don't like. It's not often that I get to create my own scenario and do something purely and positively altruistic for someone else. I'm beginning to think I should look for more opportunities to do just that. It was a huge endorphin booster, almost like a good workout on the treadmill and a lot more fun.
I've been on the receiving end of quite a bit of kindness and not just from family members. One of the most touching experiences for me was having four of our oldest friends drive up from Ohio to attend my father in law's funeral. For one couple, this meant putting their wedding anniversary plans on hold. For the other, it meant giving up a family gathering. But they set those things aside to share that time of sadness with us, and, because neither Jim nor I have brothers and sisters, our friends presence provided us with a special kind of support and strength. That simple act made a huge impression on me, one I will never forget.
I wonder if part of the reason yesterday felt so good was not only because I was able to make some people happy, but also because it allowed me to make an impact like that on someones life. I don't get many opportunities to leave a lasting impression. I spend a lot of time around people who do - educators and musicians and writers. People who change lives, who leave tangible and important evidence of their life on earth. I admit I'd like a piece of that, of feeling as if something I did made a difference for another person, made their life better for a moment in a way they might remember for a lifetime.
Whether or not that happened this weekend is not up to me to know. I do know that I was really blessed by the giving, and received more than I expected.
How about you? How have you been blessed by giving? or in receiving?