“We have to go into the despair and go beyond it, by working and doing for somebody else, by using it for something else.”
― Elie Wiesel
More this year than any before has the two words “I want” been used. In the stores, I watch parents field those words repeatedly from their children. Growing up, I can’t recall using those two words often, yet lately, they’re all I hear around me.
Christmas will never be the season for receiving for me. It will always be a season for giving. What so many fail to realize is GIVING IS RECEIVING.
We all have a purpose in this world, but no one’s purpose revolves around receiving. We were put here to have impact, to create change, to leave footprints; we’re here to do more than we see, to give more than we receive, to influence more than we’re influenced.
“I want you to understand that your first duty is to humanity. I want others to look at us and see that we care not just about ourselves but about others.”
― Madam C.J. Walker
I know there are people who will read this that are not religious or merely believe differently than I, and I apologize if I offend you, as this reflects my personal beliefs.
When I was younger, I never could decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. One day I planned to be a teacher, the next a lawyer, a week later I was checking out requirements to own a non-profit organization. I was all over the place. The one common thread was that I wanted to do something that allowed me to give back.
“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher
It was about three years ago that I became serious about creating the change I wanted to see in the world I live in. Coincidentally, it was also the year that I began focusing on writing. I didn’t quite understand then how God would use a career in writing to make a difference though.
It started with the Vamp Chronicles. Anyone who has read the series knows that I cover quite a few hot topics, social, political and personal issues, for a young adult series. It was the series that opened the door for me though. Those books taught me the power words carry. I’ve received more e-mails and messages relaying how those books impacted readers than any other. It is truly a humbling experience to know that you’ve been able to leave a footprint on the lives of those you’ve never met.
But it didn’t stop there.
My dream has always been to volunteer in Africa, do something to help HIV/AIDS victims there. I wasn’t prepared for the cost to volunteer in a foreign country though.
I was forced to take a step back and re-evaluate my dream. In doing so, I realized I could have a greater impact at home, in my own community.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
― Charles Dickens
While I’m a Christian, I do believe in Karma, appreciate Buddhist Proverbs, love Wiccan’s spiritual kinship to nature and recognize certain Islamic laws that mirror the Bible’s book of Romans. If we were to look at religions around the world, they have far more similarities than many would like to admit. Many common threads between them surround their definition of love, of respect and kindness, but beyond that, their emphasis on giving to receive.
In the Bible, God has asked us to give ten percent of our earnings as a tithe to our church. The problem that I have with that is so often that money is misdirected, is eaten by the wants in the world rather than the needs. Rather than tithe to church, I have steadily relied on God, on friends and family, and most recently, on 2hands.org to lead me to those in need.
“Give yourself entirely to those around you. Be generous with your blessings. A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.”
― Steve Maraboli
This has been a year of growth for me, personally, spiritually, emotionally, and, the greatest, financially. This is the year that I finally understood God’s purpose for me at the ground level. I’ve been blessed with the ability to not only do something that I love, a career that allows me to be a teacher one day and a lawyer the next if I want, but also to recognize my dream of having a greater impact in the lives of others beyond my words.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston S. Churchill
And all of that would not be possible without each and every one of you!
Whether you realized it or not, in purchasing one of my books this year, you have been giving back to someone in need every single month of 2012.
There is a big difference between want and need. I’m not rich. I don’t live a lavish lifestyle. I don’t own a designer handbag. I have three children yet live in a three-bedroom house. My “office” is the master bedroom’s closet. I drive an older car, own one pair of jeans, and survive off coupons and the clearance rack.
“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.”
― Ben Carson
This is a lifestyle I learned in my own struggle years ago. There have been times when I didn’t know how the light bill was going to get paid. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for a new pair of shoes for one of my kids or buy school supplies for them. I’ve been through the tough times that so many are facing right now. Having been there has helped me recognize that if I maintain the lifestyle of have, as my income (hopefully) continues to increase, so can my efforts. The more I make, as long as my lifestyle remains the same, the more I can give back.
“I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me, and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”
― Mother Teresa
I didn’t realize just how much I could give back until this Christmas season. Through friends and 2hands.org, I have been blessed with the privilege of meeting and helping so many families in need this season…but there are so many more.
There are so many who would be grateful for one gift for their child that costs the same as that fancy cup of coffee so many of us purchase.
There are so many with children who need shoes and clothes more than the newest iPod nano selling out in stores.
There are so many who will be waking up on Christmas with no electricity, with no shelter, with no food.
This season, in the season of giving, I’m asking you to reach out.
We have approximately eight days left until Christmas. That means we have eight days left to change a child’s Christmas, to impact a family’s enjoyment of the holiday. We have eight days to replace tears at an empty tree with smiles at something peaking from beneath. We have the power to change the life of another every day.
“Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned.”
― Steve Maraboli
There is a song by Luminate that I have been listening to on repeat as I write lately: This Is Love. The chorus has really hit home for me…
‘Cause this is love, keeping me awake tonight
This is love, I can’t free you from my mind
‘Cause I’ve never felt a part
Of something greater than myself
I’m waking up
‘Cause this is love
I read so many stories this season, stories that stuck with me. I’ve gone to sleep wishing I could do more than I have. This entire year came together for me this Christmas season; the experience summed up my year and helped me realize my dream for next year: to double my efforts every single month.
Writing is just my means. Giving is my purpose.
“God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.”
― Randy Alcorn
I’ve never felt a part of something greater than myself until this year.
Seeing a parent’s face light up when you deliver a car of gifts and supplies is unforgettable.
Waking up on Christmas morning and watching as your children open their gifts is heartwarming; knowing that you made it possible for another mother to do the same is priceless.
I won’t miss that cup of coffee, but a child will miss the absence of a gift beneath the tree while many more are missing the tree itself.
I’m not telling you what to do, how to live your life. I’m sharing my story, my experience, my beliefs. This is the life I’ve chosen to live, and I know it’s not for everyone. I do know that greediness has never delivered eternal happiness to anyone though.
Those of you who are open, who are able and willing, I invite you to please visit 2hands.org. One visit to their forum will, at the least, help you appreciate all you have, and, at the most, connect you with a family who will never forget you, connect you with a family you’re likely to never forget either.
Thank you once again to everyone who has purchased one of my books in 2012. I look forward to releasing many more books in 2013 and helping many more families.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.
“Giving of any kind… taking an action… begins the process of change, and moves us to remember that we are part of a much greater universe.”
― Mbali Creazzo