Hello all you big-hearted souls out there!
I’ve been confronted with an issue recently that has provoked me to think deeply about the nature and motivation of my own generosity. Who doesn’t love to think of herself as a giver? In normal measure, being helpful, generous and sharing are all positive attributes. I doubt any of you want to be stuck at dinner with a friend who always eats the last piece of pizza and never offers to pay her share of the bill. *The grace with which a person shares food becomes the holy grail of generosity once you’ve done a stint on Survivor.
We’ve all been taught to give to others that are less fortunate. It’s a normal human instinct to reach out and help a person that is suffering. Tonight, I walked by a homeless man on my way to pickup dinner and grabbed him a sandwich. ‘He’s probably hungry and I’ve got enough cash,’ I thought to myself. It’s the right thing to do.
But, if it’s obviously the right thing to do, then why did I feel so conflicted about it?
As I continued walking home, I dove a little deeper into my warring emotions, seeking to pacify my inner turmoil. After handing him the sandwich, I could have cared less if he ate it or not, so I know I wasn’t giving to alleviate guilt. My real question was, how do I know that I am giving him what he needs? He didn’t ask me for food, so why did I feel compelled to feed him? Could I have given him something else that would have made a more significant impact in the quality of his life? My answer came, I couldn’t just walk by a homeless man on the street and not do anything to acknowledge him with a small act of kindness. Then I realized the core of the issue, my act of kindness felt too small. Instantly, I had that old Chinese proverb ringing in my ears, ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” What happens if we all just keep tossing sandwiches at homeless people and don’t actually help them get off the streets and learn how to support themselves?
OK. I get the message. The inner conflict I experienced was my intuition’s way of nudging me to listen up and take action. Tonight, this man was put on my sidewalk so I could see a need to become more involved in using my gifts to make a deeper impact on the lives of others who need help.
Sweet. I already found myself a mission.
If you’re in the LA area and are feeling inspired to volunteer some time to connect with someone who needs you, check out:
I’ll see you there!