I ran with a teaching friend yesterday. She did not have school due to the Columbus Day holiday and kindly asked me if I wanted to run with her. She and I used to run at close to the same speed and we ran together often. Then my pace slowed and I retired and we ran together less. Yesterday was a “bonus” run for her, a day that she normally would not have run at all, so I felt less guilty about slowing her down.
Coming back from my hip injury has been slow, sometimes painful work. I have a certain speed in my mind that I “should” be able to run. No one really knows or cares how fast I run except me. I do not have a Garmin. I am not on Strava. I don’t usually post my times or mileage on social media. But I care. I know it’s crazy, but I felt like had a good run yesterday because I hit this artificial, self-imposed goal.
We returned to my friend’s house after the run for a chat and a glass of ice-cold water. As I was leaving, I remarked on the beautiful chrysanthemums she had sitting on her front porch. She told me that her neighbor had given them to her, then told me that her neighbor is a giver. “I guess that makes me a taker“, she laughed.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. My friend is generous and kind, often volunteering her time and talents freely and willingly. After she heard about my hip injury, she brought me a bouquet of beautiful flowers in a big Mason jar. They were gorgeous. My spirits were raised every time I looked at them.
Her comment made me think about generosity, something I ponder frequently. I am always impressed by acts of generosity and kindness. As I was growing up, generosity was something I took for granted. I did not realize at the time I had the world’s best role model for generosity- my mom.
There is a difference between performing generous acts and being a generous person. My mom did both. A person can perform generous acts for lots of reasons – a feeling of obligation, commitment to doing the right thing, guilt, even to look good in the eyes of others.
A generous person cannot help but do generous acts. They are generous because their hearts are overflowing with love. Their generosity comes from a place of abundance. That was my mom.
I cannot begin to list all of her generous acts in this space, but I will describe just a few I remember from my childhood. Living across the street and next door to us when I was a kid were two older widows. Neither of these women could drive. My mom did all their grocery shopping for them, transported them to doctor’s appointments and took them to visit relatives and to church.
When I was old enough to mow our lawn, I was also instructed to mow our neighbors’ lawns. For free. And I had to use a push mower – the kind with no motor. One of the widows didn’t like the way a motorized rotary mower cut her grass. I am sure I grumbled about this horrible injustice, but I now realize my mom’s motive was to teach me generosity and kindness.
Mom’s generosity was organic. It came from love. She could no more stop being generous than she could stop loving her family, friends, and yes, even cantankerous old neighbors. She is forever my real-life heroine and a good example of spontaneous generosity.
Most people are familiar with the Biblical verse from Luke where Jesus instructs his followers to “Do to others as you would have them do to you“. Less well known is the verse that immediately precedes it “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”
Give to everyone who asks you. I have tried to live this way and let me tell you, it is hard! This means I must give to every homeless person I meet on the street, I must respond to every request for funds I get in the mail, and, when I was teaching, donate to every student who asked me (and teachers are asked to donate to worthy causes all the time.)
I often fall short of this command. My lack of comfort and unwillingness to sacrifice put limits on my generosity. No one ever said it would be easy.
I think I must first work on emptying myself of my self. To increase generosity, I must expand the empty places in my heart so they can be filled with love. I must get rid of selfishness, self-pride, and self-importance. My goal, always, is to allow God’s light and love to shine through me. If I make room in my heart so it can be full of love, generosity will naturally flow.
Whenever I am in doubt about what course of action to take, I can always ask myself “What would Mom do?“, and I will have the answer before I am even finished phrasing the question. Here is the thing about Mom: she not only gave to everyone who asked, she gave before she was asked. I want to be just like Mom. Even if it means mowing the lawn with a push mower.
I am joining Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for Coaches’ Corner, Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday, Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart, Sharing a Journey for Wellness Wednesday, Debbie at Dare 2 Hear, Random-osity for Little Things Thursdays, It’s a Small Town Life for Thankful Thursday, Crystal Storms for Heart Encouragement, and Worth Beyond Rubies for her link up.