The concept of giving seems to have been a recurring theme in my last week so I am taking that to mean that’s the preferred topic for today’s post.
I met an amazing woman this week. She happened to be the recipient of a double lung transplant at just 31yo. I listened as she shared her story and what she said at the end stayed with me. She now lives her life being the best she can be and always honouring her donor. Knowing ‘Thank you’ could never be expressed enough, she described her way of thanks is by how she lives her gift of life each day. She keeps trying to find ways to ‘give back’ and does this partly by sharing her story with others.
I was privileged to speak with a group of year 12 students this week who were learning about paying life forward through organ donation. It is so inspiring to listen and learn from this generation. They are so comfortable talking about life and death, and as adults we can learn so much from them.
They seemed to grasp the concept of giving and felt that the ultimate gift you could give was the gift of life. In sharing part of my story, I was able to introduce them mentally to Ben and share how throughout his life he had mastered the act of giving in a variety of ways at just 15.
My grandmother shared a quote with me probably 30 years ago “Give a man a fish you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime”. Giving is not only a financial transaction.
I was recently invited to attend a charity lunch for an organisation called Precious Wings. This is a charity founded by another amazing woman after her child was stillborn. As her way of giving back after she lost her son, she raises funds and produces Memory Boxes for bereaved families, that are distributed around Australia. The statistics were mind-blowing with over 60 boxes being distributed each month in Brisbane alone. These were only to a select number of hospitals as well, so the numbers would be much more than 60. That’s 2 children a day….
My mind started racing as to why we give things and what giving back really means. What makes us give? And why does giving make us feel good? Why do some of us give anonymously and silently preferring no voiced thanks? Who teaches us to give? And when does giving start?
I learnt recently about the Hebrew word and concept of Tzedakah. The definition being, ‘the acts we call charity, giving aid, assistance and money to the poor, needy or other worthy causes.’ I was surprised to learn that in Judaism giving is not considered a simple act of generosity but a duty. The children are taught this concept at a very early age. My nephew attends preschool and part of the daily ritual is to put coins in the ‘Tzedakah’ box. He is already being taught to start each day by ‘giving’ to others first. He is not even 3 years old…
So, it seems that giving can start at any age and can be done in a variety of forms. This is perfectly illustrated in the old movie Pay It Forward, definitely worth watching. For me giving is not only a financial transaction. It is an emotional decision that we choose to do. When we give in the right heart I believe it should be without expectation of thanks or reciprocation. After
all some gifts cannot be reciprocated anyway but can only be paid forward. My mind thought of the kids in the picture I received from Sarah Gardener from Boots 4 Africa this week.
We all have different ways of living, different reasons for doing what we do but I wonder if happiness doesn’t only come from what we get, but what we give.