Friday, December 6, 2013

Make the Good Things Count More

I've come to the conclusion that every good deed we do, should carry more points than anything else we do just to survive or even more, than those we do to disrupt someone else negatively.

I'm addicted to doing good.  I often don't give myself credit for that, because well, in every day ordinary life, that sounds precocious and snooty.  But I honest to goodness believe that my purpose in this life is to make the world a better place through small acts of goodness every single day.  Yes, selfishly, I long to hear someone...anyone...say that I've made a real positive impact in their lives.  But before you get all "look at the self egrandizing bitch go", it's not really because I want accolades or applause.  It's because I look for the confirmation that my purpose is being lived.  I want to make a difference.  I HAVE to make a difference every day.  I think my mom would be surprised to hear this, but I know I learned it from her and my dad.  In some way shape or form, I learned to appreciate everything in the world they gave to us.  I saw what they sacrificed, and appreciated what I was given.  This has made me the person I am today.

I HOPE that over time, those little differences through goodness amass to a whole lot of people who truly miss me when I'm gone, and who truly appreciate what I've done in my life and what my life has given to the world around me because then it was meaningful.

This week we delivered our hamper for a family we adopted for the Christmas holidays.  It's a first for me.  I've organized toy drives, and I've coordinated food drives.  I've even donated toys to the toy drives run by the police brigades and fire halls...but this was different.  This was my family giving Christmas to another family in our community, because we wanted to.  We wanted to teach our daughter through example the absolute awesomeness of giving to others when we have enough to share.  And I'll be honest, I sat on pins and needles waiting for the agency to come back with our match.  I waited on the edge of my seat, hoping against hope, that we wouldn't be matched up with a family whose wish list consisted of video games and designer purses.  I prayed we wouldn't get a family who were so adamantly opposed to birth control that the whole reason they had to apply for assistance in the first place was that they had 6 kids and not enough income to support their sex habit.

And don't get me wrong.  It's not that I believe some kids shouldn't get what they wish for at Christmas. Christmas is about the magic of being delivered matter how big or how poor your family is.  BUT there is a certain degree of responsibility that needs to surround the charitable gift and the charitable receipt.  It's that whole idiom "if you give a man a fish, he eats one meal, if you teach a man to fish he eats every meal" in play here.  When I give, it's with the hope that it will give a lift to someone who is already actively trying to help themselves, and for whom it will have real meaning. Someone who asks for charity, but isn't responsible or thoughtful about their requests, isn't going to pay it forward and isn't going to be mindful that the gift came with heartfelt thoughts and meaning.  In any regard, we were blessed with a family match who made us want to give more and do more, and delivering that hamper made me feel awesome.

And so I've been thinking, as I wrap gifts and continue to teach my daughter that these gifts are ones we're giving the people we love to show them how much we appreciate them, that this is indeed my purpose, and probably the unclear path for so many others.

A lot of the things we do on a daily basis out of habit, are indeed acts of kindness for the people in our lives that we love.  These are the small things that overtime make a difference.  As a wife and mother, I cook the meals, do the dishes, tidy up, run kids to dance class, take little adventure trips through new neighborhoods on the way home from preschool.  I get the mail, do the shopping, host the parties, give the smiles, the kisses, the hugs.  I call my mother daily, and make time for my elderly grandmother.  I take time off work to be at my mother in law's bedside and be her medical advocate when no one else is willing or able.  I offer to help a colleague, I take a deep breath and cushion criticisms at work.  I actively listen in meetings, and when I do have to deliver bad criticisms, I remind the person first what I think they do great.  I put myself out there.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  And more often than not, I wish there was more I could do.  I am living the Christian life so many other "christians" have stopped living.  I am by no means perfect, but even trying has to be worth something.

And while I'm not naive, I do believe that if this world is operating on a points system, virtual or otherwise, if even half of us could do more of this every day, even just acknowledging it all for ourselves, we might
feel better about ourselves and be able to deal with many of the symptoms of mental illness in a much better way
we'd be better capable of coping with the onset and the triggers for depression and anxiety and
we'd maybe just maybe, be able to create a system in which doing good trumps doing bad.

We could shift social paradigms that seem to be rife with "I got mine.  Go away."  I smell a personal project brewing for me in 2014.

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