I have a friend who used to volunteer as a reading tutor. Her Christmas letter informing me there is nothing as gratifying as helping another person sent me into a self-indulgent, self-hate-fest. I used to complain to my journal or Hubby that I never did anything to help anyone else. I had no desire to volunteer anywhere and I interpreted this as selfishness.
When I worked in customer service at a bank, I admit I went out of my way to help the poor, clueless soul who thought the ATM had mind-reading skills and that the balance on the slip reflected the amount of the check she just wrote at the grocery store five minutes earlier. When I balanced her checkbook at no cost it made me feel good – even though I was later admonished for taking too much time with a non-lucrative customer.
But when I worked at a non-profit youth orchestra I was amazed by the retirees and parents who would take a few hours out of their day to help me stuff and seal thousands of fundraising letters or tune and price-tag dusty violins so they could be placed under the chin of a budding musician. On my day off, that would be the last thing on earth I’d want to be to doing.
Then I found something I believed in. Something I can do, something I love to do and know I do well. Now I want to tell the whole world and I’d do it for free if I could! And that makes all the difference.
Today I received a email from a friend who is going through a difficult time. I had encouraged her to write when she was ready, which she did. This was the final sentence of her message:
Thanks for showing me a way to sort out thoughts and take control of my life. You have helped more than you know and I would put that in any brochure or marketing tool you would like!!!!
This is better than a paycheck any day – and it made me cry.
I now know that my earlier “selfishness” was lack of self-esteem, lack of direction, and lack of passion. I now want nothing more than to help people. And I have the knowledge to be able to and the confidence to know that what I have to offer is something I would be selfish NOT to share!
I now know that my friend was right – there is nothing so gratifying as giving of your gifts, talents and knowledge for the benefit of another. And don’t underestimate what you have to offer. There is a certain joy that comes from giving the gift of yourself.
PROMPT: The ability, gift, or special knowledge I have that I could be sharing with others is…