Gratitude in Giving 2
Generating Gratitude Series: Part 2.2
What if you are the one who needs to ask for help? How do you give when you do not have $2.00 for a ride home?
You give more than money.
I have mentioned it here before: as a full-time manager, mother, wife, and writer with a passion so deep it consumes me, there is hardly a day when I feel there are enough hours, minutes, or even seconds in the day; and, if there are, all I want to do is sleep. It feels as though I have nothing left in my schedule to give to anyone or anything, even to myself.
What does it mean to be stretched to the limit? It means when other tasks, opportunities, or obligations weave their way into my schedule, I once again feel resentful and further depleted. I feel as though someone is taking from me, taking from what little time I have to rest.
Just last week as I was rushing my way to pick up our son for baseball practice, the sky suddenly opened up with a torrential downpour. The sheer volume of rain in a short amount of time caused flooding on the T tracks so we were forced to get off about a half-mile away from my stop and wait on the side of the road for a shuttle bus (that never came). I considered walking to my car, but the road we were on was an exceptionally busy one with very little room to walk so I decided it was too dangerous.
As the clock ticked by, each of us became more impatient, more annoyed, and less friendly until suddenly - a man pulled up next to us and extended a ride to three willing people (the limit for his car), then offered to come back for more.
Admittedly, my first reaction was anxiety and concern about the thought of getting into a strange man's car, but the other part of me recognized just how generous his act of giving was to complete strangers. I stood there contemplating what I would do if he came back; but it wasn’t long before one of the women he had taken in the first trip brought her own car back to continue the favor with more stranded people. This time, I was less hesitant to accept.
I gladly accepted the ride with 4 other women, shortly arrived to my car, and drove home – irritated that this inconvenience had taken from my precious time.
As I repeated the scenario to my husband, his reaction caught me off guard as he simply said to me:
“Did you do the same for the rest of the people?”
His words hit me in the stomach as I realized that it hadn’t even crossed my mind!
I was so tired and anxious that I just wanted to get home as soon as possible. So I got home - tired and anxious.
In the moment, I expressed my gratitude to the kind woman by saying thank you several times; however, the reality is it did not matter how many times I said it because when I drove home in irritation, I didn’t feel gratitude. Even more - I did not act with true gratitude.
Baseball practice was ultimately cancelled and my husband had already taken care of picking up our son so I no longer had to rush. Offering a ride to the remaining passengers would have taken me no longer than 10 additional minutes, but I chose not to give my time and went home exhausted.
My husband’s simple inquiry forced me to evaluate my actions and simultaneously wonder – would paying it forward and acting in gratitude have changed the outcome for more than just those waiting people? Would I have come home less irritable and more energized?
True and authentic spirit-filling gratitude is more than saying thank you as we are taught we must do. It is feeling honored and blessed to have received a gift, an opportunity, or even a hand from a stranger; and feeling compelled to further spread kindness.
Wouldn't it be amazing to live in a world where each time someone says the words “thank you,” they follow it with an act of gratitude?
The impact would be far greater than anything money can buy.