It was a hard few years, I must admit. It had taken its toll on the finances as
the years rolled by and I had to pay for university. I was living in a one room
apartment with an old beat up couch, a wobbly old kitchen table with two
chairs, a small black and white TV sitting on a book case made out of old
two by six lumber supported with bricks. It wasn't pretty but it did do the job.
Could They Get Worse
But, times were getting worse and I needed some financial help.
I didn't need a lot, just a bit. But, let's go back in time to tell this story a
little more clearly. For two years before I went to university,
I had lived over a shoe store with very little to do on weekends.
So, I usually went for a walk in the downtown area. One Sunday morning,
I stopped at the corner not far from my shoe store apartment and said hello
to the bus inspector on the corner who was busy making sure all the buses
were keeping to their schedule.
He wasn't exactly friendly but he also wasn't rude. I think he was more
surprised than anything that someone would stop and start to chat with him
on a bleak, lonely Sunday morning. This ritual developed into several times
a week and went on for several years during which we became quite
close friends. Since I had moved further away to attend university,
I would visit him on Sunday morning.
Just One Condition
On one of these days, he asked how I was getting on. I was a little reluctant
to tell him my troubles but I thought I'd at least have a friendly ear to talk
to so I told him I was in a bit of a bind. He asked me specifically what I
needed, so I told him. He stood there for only a few seconds and then
turned to face me directly. He told me he belonged to an organization
that would probably be able to help me but it would be done on one
condition. That condition had nothing to do with paying the money back,
or anything like that. The condition was that I would agree to help someone
else in need during my life, in other words, to give back.
The following Sunday when we met he gave me the money that
I needed to survive. Without that money it meant I would not have
been able to get groceries. I was overwhelmed and so appreciative. It
was a difficult time in my life, and it was coming down to a decision of
quitting university and getting a full time job so I could afford food.
I will never forget how grateful I felt and I promised myself that I would
help others every opportunity I could. It made me more determined to
finish my studies, get a good job so that I could help people. You see
when you are desperate, when you feel like quitting and someone
steps up and says let me help, it gives you a feeling that you will never
Those few short and simple words - "help someone else during my lifetime" -
stuck with me over the entire course
of my life. And, it was to be a helping
hand to many over the years as a result. But, here is just one time
back meant more to the person than I could have ever imagined.
One of Many Opportunities
At my place of work, I happened to meet a single mother getting by
but without the means to do anything but survive. Both her parents were
dead, and she had no other family members to help her. Over the months,
I also found out that the old car she was driving had several problems
that she needed to get repaired or she would not be able to drive it,
and therefore, couldn't get to work, and she couldn't afford a taxi everyday.
One morning, I happened to pass by her on my way to another department
and noticed that she had tears in her eyes.
I couldn't help but stop and ask her what was wrong. She was reluctant to
talk but I sensed she really wanted to. So, I asked her again if something
was wrong and could I help. She started to cry again and blurted out that
she had only one possession from her father and that it was a special Bible.
She went on to say that she had to pawn if for eight hundred dollars in order
to get her car repaired and that it was really unlikely that she would ever have
enough money to get her father's Bible back.
I told her that I may be able to help and not to worry, and left.
That night, I discussed the situation of this single mother with my wife.
She was also upset and agreed that we should help her so she could
afford to get her father's Bible back. We both agreed that we would
give her eight hundred dollars with the condition that she would help
somebody else during her life.
But Just One Condition
The next morning before she was supposed to start work, I asked
her to come outside on the pretence to meet my wife. After introductions,
we told her that we wanted to help and handed her an envelope with the
money inside and told her she could now get her father's Bible back.
Before we could tell her the one condition, she started to cry and said
through tears that she couldn't afford to pay us back. We then told her
that there was no repayment necessary on the condition that she would
help someone else at some point in her life. Her surprise was apparent
and she turned to both of us and said, "You must be angels."
An Opportunity For Us All
Those words although unnecessary have stuck with me to do this day.
Just by helping a little when someone is need and is hurting is a true
reflection of giving back. Maybe, just maybe, more people could adopt
this simple principle of life and then we would all live in a much better and
The feeling that you get when you give to someone else, especially when
they are struggling is hard to describe. Life throws curve balls at us and
we just never know when we will need the help of someone else.
There are people all around us who are struggling trying to make ends meet.
Situations and circumstances that most time we are not aware of. But when
we stop and look around us, paying attention to the people who we see
every day we will see opportunities where we can help to make someone
else's life just a bit better. It doesn't have to be money we give, it could be
time, or just a listening ear.
The one time of the year that many people have the spirit of giving is
People seem to open their hearts and their wallet to help those
who need it. But what if the spirit was with us throughout the year, wouldn't
the world be a better place!
Have you given back?
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
"How wrong we would be to stop helping anyone because we cannot help everyone."
"Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting."
"In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us."
"Giving to others will not take away from what you have but will in fact add to your life."
"Maybe life is supposed to be like that - a little giving that means a lot to others. I have never forgotten this unusual event, and, to this day, I believe that giving of one's humanity is better than the mere observation of life."