Have you ever done mission work? Any kind of work, like cleaning a church or helping to build a church or just helping people who wouldn’t normally be able to help themselves, either emotionally or physically? Just take a moment to think about those times in your life when you have done just that---from taking a lasagna over to a neighbor whose dad just died to doing a big build for Habitat for Humanity. Now, picture how the person/people felt when you did that loving (maybe sweaty) thing for them. They usually are overwhelmed with gratitude. I know I have been the past few weeks since my surgery. The outpouring of prayers, good thoughts, messages, emails, cards, visits, nursing and gifts have been so overwhelming, I have to just do a group “thanks” because I know in my dopey state, I have lost track of all the people who have been there for me.
Years ago, I went with Peter and other advisors and we took the youth group from St. Jude’s Episcopal Church (and kids from other churches in our area) to Houston, where we worked at a Woman’s Shelter. Kids were allowed but no men could stay there. This was a place that was designed to help women get back on their feet. We cleaned the tables after breakfast and lunch and then sorted clothes that had been donated for women to wear when going for job interviews. They got classes in how to interview and they were appreciative. I’ve done other mission work but I am just using this as an example.
So, now, just for a moment, think about how doing that work made YOU feel. My dear friend, Cid, goes on builds to other countries every single year and there is always a huge smile on her face (and beautiful fingernails, at least the first couple of days). I loved cleaning the tables at the Women’s Shelter. I talked with another priest who had joined us from another church about his work while we cleaned and wiped and washed.
I guess I’m saying the satisfaction in giving is often just as great for people as the receiving. But sometimes, I’m not exactly sure who is the giver and who is the receiver. Take teaching, for instance. Who is giving to whom? As a consultant and trainer, I have the privilege of teaching groups of adults (teachers, teacher leaders, administrators, etc.) about effective teaching, communication, and trust. I love what I do. When I found out I had to take a month off from teaching because of my surgery, I was bummed. Many teachers I know share their passion for teaching every single day. But every once in awhile, I’m not sure who is the giver or the receiver. Case in point: my first day back to training on a Navajo reservation this week. My dear husband, Dave, and 1,000 others had warned me: “it’s too soon. You’ll wear yourself out.” I totally get that, but I get jazzed and hyped when I am helping teachers learn about better teaching strategies. I learn, they learn, we all learn. Just like school should always be, right? So, at the end of the 6 hour training, I told these folks what it had meant to me to be able to spend the day with them. I shared that they were my first group, post-surgery, and they had energized me. I’m supposed to be teaching them, I said, but they got me fired up (which was good because my colleague/dear friend and I still had a 5 ½ hour drive back to Tucson that evening. We said our goodbyes and I picked up the evaluations. While they were all very thoughtful, one participant had written these words: *With everything presented, I feel I have the energy to get back to my teaching, having lost a son four months ago. I wasn't sure if I had it in me to continue teaching. Thank you very much for showing me the passion to continue.
I was there to help them, but they helped me get fired up and my passion fueled someone else’s lost passion. I call that a double win-win!! A dear friend who is always there with a sound byte or a song that fits the mood, Kelly Edelman, sent me this song that puts into words what I believe teachers and students do for one another. The song is by Bruno Mars and called “Count on Me”
Just for today, perhaps you might listen to the song from the above link and reflect on why you love to do what you do and why you appreciate what others do for you. By the way, just by reading my blog and sometimes making a comment about it, you’re doing great things for me, and I thank you!!!!