When Giving Means Receiving

flowers

My beautiful surprise

 There comes a time in everyone’s life when a choice has to be made or a question needs to be answered. More often than not we ignore or push-off making a final decision or finding the best solution until we are emotionally or financially ready. That’s a good thing. It’s never smart to make decisions without proper thought about consequences. Sometimes a rash decision will cause tremendous ramifications and that’s not a good thing. Taking the time to really hash out our feelings is an important part of the process. 

BUT. Then there are times when you get a certain feeling to do a certain something and just act. Without thinking too much. Even though some may say is “adventurous”, some…”stupid”, may be the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else. Now, this could be bad or good.

Let’s say your cousin shows up with spiked hair and you decide to just do the same (Hair Today, Idiot Tomorrow). That, most probably, will turn out bad and last the whole summer and not grow out for the first day of being a freshman in high school. 

However, if you decide to do an act of kindness, because you see another person needs help or, an extra hug, or something that seems insignificant like a ride, or a call, or a smile, you know what will happen? A chain reaction.

Either you’ll want to continue doing these small kindnesses because it brightens someone else’s day, and THAT makes you feel good, or the person on the receiving end will want to do something similar for someone else. 

When I decided to take upon myself the task of baking Challah bread every week for Shabbat (the Sabbath) and pray that my niece’s baby have a complete and speedy recovery, a tradition that many religious Jewish women take on, it was a mother daughter affair in honor of my daughter’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah, but a tradition I kept on throughout the year. The more I became comfortable with the dough, and the prayers, the more people I started to pray for, the more intense my prayers became. Then one day, it hit me. I had the strongest urge to share some loaves with one of the families I was praying for. I first asked if it would be helpful, did they want it, did they need it? I was thrilled the answer was yes, well mostly because we as a family, even if I invite guests won’t finish 7 large loaves in one weekend. But more importantly, by bringing my son along to deliver the bread, I was able to bring another person along for the journey. He could witness the look of appreciation on the receiving end. That made him feel good too.

Once there was a neighbor (we are not close with) who knocked on the door and asked if we happened to have a spare roll just so that he could make the blessing later that evening. The store had closed before he had a chance to purchase enough for his family and I was thrilled to be able to share. Another time while about to get in the car to make deliveries, the same neighbor was saying goodbye to friends of his and the guest had commented about my loaves. I offered them the ones in my hand and asked my son to run up to get more. The guest was speechless, his wife was a little shocked, kept protesting and saying that it wasn’t necessary and I think mortified that her husband so willingly accepted, but was gracious when I reminded her that she was leaving close to Shabbat and that with the travel back to Jerusalem (and her screaming children in the back) there may not be enough time to purchase their own. Her smile was worth a million thank yous and her husband was telling his friend how lucky they were to live in such a warm neighborhood.

We got in the car to deliver and my son (who often brings his sullen teenage attitude with him) was going on and on about how cool that was. How awesome it was  to make another person happy, simply by offering a kindness. When we delivered the first set my son was able to play with a dog – so naturally he was in even better spirits and finally to our last destination where my son returned to the car holding a beautiful bouquet. For me. What?!? That was such a nice surprise! I certainly had no intention or expectations for a return gift. I gave freely with my whole heart never needing or wanting anything in return and thus being on the receiving end of someone’s thoughtfulness was overwhelmingly pleasant. This is the chain reaction I was referring to. One action leading to another, creating a good example for my son. That with my one act of sharing, I was able to create a smile for at least 4 other people.

I’m not sharing this piece to toot my own horn, its nothing really. I know lots of people doing lots of nice things, however, I recently read The hole story, by my friend Elie Klein, and the lesson I took away was that it’s important to share these details with others and hope that a chain reaction begins. They say that sharing is caring and I couldn’t agree more. Setting good examples for my children means I sometimes do the right thing and those are the actions I hope they remember me most by.

 

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