“You are blessed to be a blessing.”
That’s what Ida G. – my mother – has told my sister and me our entire lives. As a kid, there were some days where I agreed, and then there were some days where my internal response was, “Um, sure?” (Yes, internal. Making that comment an external response would have opened the door to a situation I was never ready to handle. That discussion is for a different article ☺). Blessing others when you don’t feel so blessed is tough. (And of course, as you recount the times you felt “not so blessed” as a kid, the struggles were menial compared to what you know the real world to be and offer now). As I’ve gotten older, my internal response gravitates more naturally and easily toward agreement instead of hesitation or trepidation because I’ve grown to understand what my mother tried to teach us – through word and action – all those years under her roof.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about the importance of grounding yourself in something bigger than you. Part of the article discusses the importance of believing in something bigger than yourself – one reason being the consistent reminder that life is not all about you. Remember “there are other people to consider in this world, and if I want to live as fully as possible, I have to make space for them, their troubles, and their joy in my heart.” Making that space by giving back in some capacity helps you connect to and remain in sync with whatever ideals and being(s) that you consider bigger than yourself.
Church was the first place where I learned and recognized the importance of giving back. As part of the children’s and youth ministries, giving back was a demonstration of our faith. We would host lunch or dinner at church for the less fortunate, participate in city-wide initiatives for feeding the hungry or uplifting our communities, and do our part to make sure that the families of our communities felt loved and seen. We learned to give of our “time, talents, and substance” as affirmation and expression of our faith.
All those years under Ida G.’s roof, practicing giving back as a demonstration of faith as well as expression of obedience to my mother, taught me several invaluable lessons:
Be kind. The deed does not matter nearly as much as the heart behind it. Sometimes, all you have to offer is courtesy. Say “good morning,” hold the door open, smile at someone – and do not be offended if the deed is not reciprocated.
Give freely and willingly, especially to those who cannot give back to you. You have what you have – time, talent, substance – not to hoard, but to share, so others may see the goodness of God through you. Have the heart to give a little – and to give it with a cheerful spirit.
Be selfless. Charity starts at home, but it doesn’t need to stay there. And don’t be upset by the situations that you may see as inconveniences in the moment. I can guarantee that more often than not, those “inconveniences” hold gifts for you too. Sometimes, being selfless will require being flexible.
You are blessed in order to be a blessing to others. God gives to you, so you can give to others. You have, so you can help others have. The time, talents, and substance aren’t meant to say just in your world. You are called to follow your purpose and your heart, so others may feel the bounty of God.
You are blessed, meaning God blesses you, because you have chosen to bless others. When you give others your time, some part of yourself, or share your possessions with others, you free space for God to give back to you. It is one of the most bountiful cycles known to man – God gives to you, you give to others, God continues to give to you.
Giving back to others ultimately puts a smile on your face and does more for you than the person receiving your gift. As the cycle of giving perpetuates itself – God to you, you to others, God to you again – it connects you to the spirit of others, to the wellbeing of the world, and to God as He seeks to continue to fill your life.
In all those years under Ida G.’s roof, I never fully understood the two-fold meaning of being blessed to be a blessing until now. (You’re still teaching me, Ma! Even with almost 600 miles between us). Our purpose on this earth is far greater than just ourselves; giving back to others propels us deeper into that purpose, opening us to a wealth of possibility, energy, and love.