Whenever you talk about giving in today’s modern and mostly selfish society, people immediately think of their possessions and physical belongings and gifts to give. Well those are not what I mean by this title at all. In fact, this article is in response to a wonderful list of gifts from the article, The True Essence of Giving by a regular reader, Jonathan at Advanced Life Skills. Please go take a look at his article right now which gives some perspective to why I felt this story has some relevance.
A Friend that Gave it All
My story is of a friend I had that was always giving everything he had. It didn’t matter what kind of circumstance he was in, he always seemed to bring so many great things to a situation, a conversation or a friendship. I got together with him and other friends from time to time for some discussions, games or a meal and he always stood out to me in that he lived with no desire for all the stuff, possessions and things that are so desirable by today’s standards. He led what seemed to be a simple life but I now think it was far from it, which I’ll explain below. He just didn’t care about all that stuff the rest of us have. He had a run down car that barely got him around, a simple house and very basic possessions. He never had new ‘things’ to talk about and really just never seemed interested in any of that. What I see now is how much of these other things in life and our possessions really PREVENT us from giving all we have. I could see that he was always fully engaged in conversation, laughter and communicating with people because nothing else caught his eye and distracted him. I’ve met no one like that before and that particular trait stood out to all who knew him. You might say if was his charisma or his magnetic personality but really I think it was because he was always giving you everything he had in that moment. All the things from Jonathan’s list linked above…
Anyway, he traveled a lot for missions giving his time and energy to those in much more need than him around the world. His love for others and to serve God enabled him to give so deeply and passionately. I never understood giving in this way until hearing his stories of giving in shattered 3rd worlds where there seems to be little hope. The beautiful thing with giving from the heart, and especially in 3rd worlds, is that any gift from the heart is immediately recognized and valued sincerely. People (and especially children) who don’t experience much joy in life get a little piece of happiness and hope when someone gives them their attention, a smile, or some time to play with them. These are gifts from the heart and they are the most valuable gifts you can give. Looking at how to love someone else and provide them something on the spot and in the moment is the greatest gift and I’m afraid loosing its perceived value against our society of stuff.
So, let me explain my comment about living simply from above. Our high standards society in 1st world nations has a different definition of simple if you ask me. It would state that simple life is less stuff and this is really only partially true. I also see simple in the WAY we react to everything around us. A simple life is actually more complex and more difficult because there is a far deeper understanding of oneself and one’s awareness and present moment in order to keep our interactions simple. This is especially true in a complex and distracting environment. There are literally thousands of advertisements and distractions every single day that train us to think all those things will make our lives simpler when in reality they just mess it up more. Its easiest to just go with the flow and experience all those distractions every single day. To avoid all that is tough, and its certainly not simple. In fact, its more acceptable to be distant and distracted every moment of our lives and we willingly join in competition to express how busy we are all the time. None of this helps learn to give though, for that, we need to eliminate distractions and look at the things we have to give others from our heart. We must enhance our ability to focus on people instead of stuff, to be fully present with others regardless of the distractions. This will generate a more fulfilling life and it enables a person to give more from the heart.
A journey into the unknown… . I don’t really know where or when I will end up, and it doesn’t really matter. It will be an adventure, an epic journey, a time of soul-searching and of praying, of exploring and learning and sharing – a time of drinking Life to the fullest.
–Quoted from his blog
OK, back to the story. Well, my friend decided to ride his bicycle across west Africa to experience his favorite place on Earth to its absolute fullest and he headed out to do so. He wrote about his journey about how he was impacting people daily with his incredible giving spirit and how much joy he was experiencing as a result. He literally created hundreds of smiles from strangers every day and great friendships with the people he’s met and stayed with along his way. Before he was able to complete his bicycle journey, however, he was struck and killed by a vehicle on one of the highways. His Earthly years may have been short, but his impact and influence left behind is great. I always remember his giving spirit and he’s one of those people you think of that is just larger than life. All of those fond memories are memories that are tied to the authentic giving he was always able to do from his heart.
What kind of gifts do you think of when you hear about a gift from the heart? Who have you learned the essence of giving from? How do you come across to others in your giving? Spend some time thinking of your own stories and memories about giving this Christmas and do what you are meant to do at Christmas, give from the heart!
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