The Virtue of Giving (Not Just Money)

31 May

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa

Just the two of us.

My baby girl is with her Nana this week and we all miss her terribly. Marco was just wandering aimlessly around the house, moping, until I gave him his rawhide bone that he’s not allowed to have when Luca is here. That perked him right up and from the looks of things, he’s been working on that bone for the past few hours while I was volunteering at the library.

Did I mention I started volunteering there last week? Kay, well, I did. 🙂

It’s exciting not only because  I’m gaining experience and familiarity in my future career field, but also because I’m good at it and it’s one of those small ways that I talked about contributing to my community. Maybe you remember that I also volunteer at the local Humane Society too. Altogether, I spend 4-6 hours a week volunteering and that’s actually quite a bit of time to do something that doesn’t pay. But let’s look at it a different way.

I spend two hours of my week, donating my knowledge and skills at the library each week.

Two-four hours a week, I donate my compassion and dog-training experience at the shelter.

For one hour every day, I build a family by cleaning, organizing, and generally keeping things pretty at home. Walking and training our dogs falls into this category too, and that adds another hour every day.

For another hour or two every day, I contribute my talent and passion by writing, editing, and reading/researching.

Then there’s the two-three hours a week that I spend exercising, improving myself and making sure that I am fit enough to contribute to my community whenever and however I want.

Also, I spend roughly five hours a week going to church, reading a spiritual book, or pursuing God in other ways.

Let’s see now. Depending on how I want to divide and categorize my time, you could say that I spend something like fifteentwenty hours a week giving and around eight hours a week getting or just working on myself.

Altogether, that’s in the neighborhood of twenty-five solid hours of what I now call work. Before I was unemployed and completely bored with myself, I went to school and worked a part-time job (which is a calling that I hope to return to by August) but what I never had time to consider was how I would like to make other things, enjoyable and right things, into my job.

What I have the freedom to realize now is that I want my job in life not to be defined by how much money I get or my ability to climb a social ladder. I want to view myself, my work, and whatever money I make as God’s way of giving me the resources to give of my time, my resources, and all the skills that He gave me (you know, and the ones I picked up on my own). I have to see myself not as an end but as the means and allow my blessings to flow through me to other lives that I touch. And it’s not always, always just about giving, either. It’s also about devoting some of my time to improving myself through nurturing my health, my mental wellness, my energy, and my spirit. People don’t need some dried up, exhausted version of myself. They need me at my best–my fullest self.

Now, no one is making money off the work I’m doing right now but I’d really like to think that plenty of people are benefiting in other ways. Someone has taken home a more adjusted dog because of the love I gave it.  Maybe someone feels more at home in a library because of the improvements I make and the way I help them understand. What I’m giving to my community are truly the things that matter to me: my love, my passion, my knowledge, and my talent.

When I think about it this way, I’m incredibly fortunate to have this place in the world right now. So I have to ask, where do you see yourself and the work that you do in relation to what you give to the world? Are you happy with that? Because if what you give doesn’t consist of the most important things to you, maybe it’s time for you to think of what and how you contribute.

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