Monday, February 27, 2012
I did a good thing today, but I didn’t really feel it. A friend and I took some toys to the children’s unit of the local hospital. We spent an afternoon a couple weeks ago shopping for Play Doh, craft supplies, Hot Wheels, and card games. After overcoming bouts of the flu, unplanned work hours, previously scheduled lunch dates, and a bit of procrastination and miscommunication in both households, we managed to come to a time that worked for both of us and for the hospital for the drop-off appointment.
We met this afternoon for a wonderful pre-appointment lunch. I had the curried sweet potato soup. She ordered the grilled Portabello sandwich. There was much chatting and delightful conversation on everything from getting hit on in gyms and at the gas pump to reflecting on reflecting to Bible banging and the reasons no woman should ever do yoga in public. Despite the age difference, she is twenty years my junior, I feel a kindred spirit and am enjoying the new company. After taking care of the bill, we headed for the car to deliver the goods.
Can I just say that I thought this would be the climax of the giving? I thought, perhaps, I would feel a full heart and walk away with a smile on my face. I actually felt none of this. I actually felt not much at all. We dropped the toys in the contact’s office and that was that. And, sure, I knew that I had done a good thing. I knew that I had provided goodies for the treasure box, activities for the kids who had to be away from home in an uncomfortable and unfortunate circumstance. I know what a difference this makes because I know this feeling personally. Twice as a child I was in the hospital for extended periods. Mostly, though, I just thought after delivering the toys I would feel SOMEthing. I didn’t. If anything, I actually felt a bit of disappointment.
As I reflected on the situation, I reflected on my reflecting. Why did I feel nothing? Why did I feel let down even? I did a good thing, for Pete’s sake. At this point in the reflecting, I turned to that picture I have in my head of what I believe myself to be, that picture of who I am. I am hands on, active, and in your face. I am talking and telling and teaching. I am questioning, curious, encouraging, and inviting. I am in the thick of it, no matter what that thick of it is. I am smiling, offering a warm word, heck, offering any word. I am instant gratification, immediate feedback. I am to see and be seen. My giving was none of this. My giving was nice, but it was not me. It was someone else.
If my giving were me it would have been ladling soup, helping with fractions, teaching social skills. It would have guided and motivated and cheered and elevated. It would have enlivened, encouraged, uplifted, and maximized, albeit minus the pom pons and tiny little skirt. If my giving were me it would not have dropped grocery bags of goods on an office floor and run. It would not throw money at a situation without some sort of face to face. It would not fill out a standard gift form and say, “Here you go, have a nice life.” It would not walk away with a heavy heart or a head hung low. If my giving were me, it would let out a heavy sigh and shake it’s head and say, “Fun!! Let’s do THAT again!”
It’s good to know who you are.
Sure I could go through life giving and doing and being according to the code of another, but that’s not me. I’m not sure, should I do that, I would give or do or be to the extent I would should I go about my business giving and doing and being as me. When I throw all of myself fully into something as I so enjoy doing I GIVE so much more, I DO so much more, and I FEEL so much more.
I need to not listen to those whispers of who I think I SHOULD be. I need to listen, instead, to those shouts of who I AM. I need to touch some faces, warm some hearts, and sit on the floor making Play Doh snakes and snowmen. I need to work among the hungry, garden among the poor, and build among the homeless. I need to reach out and touch someone. I need to give and do and be, yes, but I need to do it as ME.