Giving Back

Author: , © 2011

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 forget.

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 that giving 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 wholesome world.

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 Christmas. 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." Charles Swindoll

"Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting." Elizabeth Bibesco

"In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us." Flora Edwards

"Giving to others will not take away from what you have but will in fact add to your life." Catherine Pulsifer

"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." Byron Pulsifer



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