“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” – Maya Angelou
Anytime I do anything for anyone I think it was not good enough or it was done incorrectly.
Now at Christmas I struggle with buying gifts and giving tips. I don’t know what to get. For the people that I give cash to, I don’t know how much to give. If I buy someone a gift I think I should have bought something else. Or I should have spent more money. Or I should have bought two gifts. It is a constant nagging feeling.
At this time of the year I give to a few charities. Again I second guess myself with which charities to help and how much to give.
Does anyone else suffer with that “never enough” or “not good enough” feeling?
“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” -Steve Maraboli
The day before Thanksgiving, the concierge in my building called to say I had a package waiting for me downstairs. When I got to the lobby I encountered her and a man I had never seen before fumbling with a First Aid kit. His hand was dripping blood.
I asked what happened and if he needed help. He jokingly said: I do if you are a nurse. I said I was not. He said he had gotten locked out of his apartment and while forcing the door handle it broke and it cut him.
I asked him if he wanted to come up to my apartment and wash up and dress the wound properly. He said: really? You don’t mind?
I said: of course not! Come.
We got to my apartment and I directed him to the bathroom where I got him larger Band-Aids, peroxide, Neosporin, cotton balls, paper towels, etc. The blood was refusing to stop flowing. The cut was much deeper than I originally thought.
I offered to drive him to the hospital to get stitches but he refused. He said he would go the following day if need be. Right now he would just wait for his girlfriend to get home with the apartment keys. They had just moved in a couple of weeks before.
I helped him apply pressure for awhile, then pour peroxide and apply Neosporin. We put 3 large Band-Aids on top of each other. After that he thanked me profusely and hugged me good bye.
As soon as he left I started second guessing myself. I started listing in my head all the things I could have done better. I should have taken control of the situation and lifted up his hand to stop the bleeding. I should have told him to wait for his girlfriend sitting comfortably in my apartment instead of letting him leave before she had arrived. I should have offered him something to drink/eat.
I continued thinking about it until I went to bed taking awhile for me to fall asleep. Why do I do that? Why do I torture myself with such thoughts when there is nothing I can do at this point?
I know that I did all I thought to do at that moment. Shouldn’t that be enough? Why can’t I be okay with that knowledge?
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan
On Thursday as I was getting to work, there was a figure sitting on the corner of the street past my office building. From far I couldn’t tell gender, age, anything, as the person had a blanket on their head. Instead of getting into my building I went to the corner and approached the person. I said hi, how are you? I know that is a stupid question to ask someone in that situation.
A young man lifted his head and looked up at me startled. I saw fatigue and emptiness in his eyes. I took $20 dollars from my bag and was handing it to him but before he could take it I pulled it away for a second and said: Do you promise to buy yourself a hot breakfast with it?
Seeming elated he said: Yes, yes, I am going now and pointed to Dunkin Donuts a few doors down. As he said that he was getting up and going. He left his belongings and took off.
I was happy that he was getting food, but I immediately regretted my attitude.
Why did I need to tell him how to spend the money? Any time I give money to a homeless person I don’t know how the person is going to spend it. I give it with heart, gratitude and hope that they will get something to eat. Ultimately what they choose to do is on them.
I felt ugly by not handing the money until he agreed to get something to eat. In a way I was exercising power over someone less fortunate than me at that moment. It didn’t feel right.
At times when I am helping others it is as if my brain stops functioning. I just react. A few minutes later, when my brain has a chance to analyze it I start finding faults with my actions.
Another area for me to work on. Do what you think it is good at that moment. But if for some reason you think you fell short, don’t chastise yourself! Just tell yourself you will do better next time and move on.
Now I feel bad I made this post all about me while it could have been about helping others or the homelessness crisis in America.
I think it is about time I go back to searching for ways to volunteer my time and energy.
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama