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The healing power of generosity
I have been thinking a lot about the act of giving and generosity lately.
I think it partly started with a book I read by Debbie Macomber called One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity, which talks about the many ways you can give of yourself (including financially, spiritually and emotionally.) In the book, stories of giving —a child offering up his meager lunch of loaves and fishes to Jesus to feed the multitudes, or a stranger buying a cup of coffee at Starbucks for a frazzled person who spilled theirs — remind us that every day a small, simple act of generosity can sometimes change lives.
Reading this book also happened to coincide with a few gift swaps I participated in this summer — with complete strangers. One was with a group called Craftaholics Anonymous, and the other was the NOVA Modern Quilt Guild. I have never met any of these people in person, and in fact found both groups via a blog or Facebook. The concept of these swaps intrigued me from the start. You make something for someone — and someone else makes something for you. Easy, right? So of course the overachiever I am, I signed up to make handmade gifts for people I have never met and likely never will.
I love to create things. I love to give gifts. I tend to invest in the people I cherish and love and have a constant desire to make others around me happy, often with sacrifices to my own time and energy. I sometimes get chastised from friends and family about “wasting my time” on people I don’t know, but for me, that simple act of generosity and giving is good therapy for my soul and my heart — not a waste of money or time.
I know that in my experiences with giving (and receiving) it’s most often the little things we do in life for others that count the most.
Do you leave small notes of love and encouragement for your significant other or your children?
Do you put away the dishes or do the laundry — just because you know the person who usually does it had a bad day or isn’t feeling up to it?
Do you cook an extravagant meal for your closest friends or family members just because they make you feel loved?
Do you buy a gift for someone just because it reminds you of them — not because it’s a chore and you “have to” on a designated gift-giving day?
Have you ever seen someone forget their wallet, and offer to pay for whatever it was they were trying to purchase?
Do you remember to send thank-you notes for even the smallest acts of kindness others show you?
Do you say an extra prayer for someone in need?
I have done most of these things. People who know me well, and know how busy and stressed out I often am, wonder why I take the extra time and effort.
In part, while growing up I didn’t have the money or ability to make giving possible, and unfortunately I’ve been on the receiving end of people who don’t treat others nicely or with love and respect. That makes my acts of giving extra special to me, and hopefully it makes the recipient feel valued and cherished — whether they acknowledge it or not, or I get something in return — because that is really the whole point of generosity, right?
Rausch can be reached at email@example.com.