Just about 3 months ago, my daughter was born. With 2 boys already, Alissa and I were officially outnumbered and feeling a little overwhelmed. We were grateful for the amount of support we received from our families. Alissa’s mom in particular helped take care of our boys, cooked us meals, and helped clean up around our house so we could get our feet under us those first couple weeks.
But the help didn’t stop with our families.
We were blown away by the generosity of so many friends in our community, especially when it came to meals. For about a month and a half, we received 3 meals per week. In fact, our meal calendar was so full that other friends came over to help Alissa clean, hold our baby so she could shower, or put away laundry. The generosity we experienced was unparalleled.
As I reflect back now, I can’t help but ask, “why?” Why did all these people help us during this challenging transition for our family?
Well, first of all, it’s clear that our community is generous. They are kind and caring people who have no problem putting aside their own time, effort, and energy for others.
But there may be another reason.
We experienced this level of generosity because my wife is generous. Now, I must say that she’d be the first one to tell me not to write that. She’d be the first one to deflect attention from herself and place it on someone else. However, the reality is that she makes sacrifices for others time and time again. On a regular basis, you can find Alissa making meals for a new mom, bringing coffee to a friend who needs a pick me up, or watching someone’s kids so they can have a reprieve.
But here’s the thing. She never expects that they return the favor.
Me? I’m a little different. Too often, I count the cost…and not just to our finances. I look at the time it takes to do something and how that takes away from our family. I consider the energy it will take Alissa to help someone and how that will make her tired later. And I often wonder if the other person will pay us back. But not Alissa. She simply serves. And that’s the sort of generosity that people can’t help but want to return.
As another Thanksgiving approaches, and we gear up for the joys of the holiday season, remember this lesson from my wife. If you want people to be generous and kind to you, be generous and kind first. Imagine the world we’d live in if we all exhibited that sort of attitude.
This next month gives us a great opportunity to do just that. Maybe you could bake some cookies for that neighbor you don’t know down the street. Maybe you could bring coffee to that person at work you don’t particularly get along with. Or maybe you could offer one night of babysitting so that couple you know could have a date before Christmas.
The choice is yours. But I can promise you one thing. Your generosity will be returned tenfold. Just don’t expect it.
Question: What is one way you can show generosity to others this week? (Share in the comments below.)