In this past blog post, we talked about finding community and the importance of that. I wanted to dive in a bit more to that today. Specifically how to let people help you and the importance of helping others in turn.
Building Community by Helping Others
One of the best parts of community is the ability to be able to help others when you can. I’m sure many of us (probably all of us) can remember a time in our life when help of some form was greatly needed. It either arrived, and we were immensely grateful, or it never did arrive and life was much harder for want of it.
Living in close community with one another allows us to be able to see the needs in each other’s lives. Maybe it’s knowing someone has a plumbing repair that needs done, and you’re able to help fix it. Perhaps someone recently lost a job and your company is hiring. Or maybe they are vegan or gluten free and you know of just the right brownies to bring for them to enjoy 😉
We gain so much by giving back to others in need. There is good argument for the spiritual and mental benefits from helping others, and it just plain makes you feel good. There’s also a practical aspect – what goes around comes around, and you need to start by helping others if you hope to have others help you when you need it. We also live in such times of abundance in the U.S. that we often times have excess things that can be easily used to help others who may not have what they need. You don’t have to be the best or quickest or smartest in order to help someone. You just need to be willing. Sometimes, they may not accept your offer, and that’s ok, too. Just receiving an offer of help can mean the world to someone who’s struggling.
Those Who Have Helped Us
Someone who has blessed us is my former boss. He offered us free venison from a friend of his. The first year that he offered us venison, we were on a very low budget as I had just started my job – getting free high quality meat was a HUGE blessing to our family! Each year since, we have received venison from him, been blessed by free high quality meat, and even been able to pass along some of that blessing to others by sharing deer with them, too. Each year the amounts have varied, but each year it has still been quite the blessing.
It’s a blessing to us, and it’s a blessing to others – when we are given something unexpectedly, we try to always pass along part of it to others. Typically every year for the past 5 years. we have been able to make a phone call and let a family know that we have a deer or two for them. This year we are going to be able to do that again. Knowing these people personally means that I know how much it means to them and how much this provision helps their family.
Running Off Kilter Brownies has also been an awesome way to be able to help others as well. I have met some really fantastic people, and people who are incredibly grateful that we are providing something delicious that everyone is able to eat. We have been able to give to fundraisers, help people along different stages of their gluten free journeys, and help provide a yummy treat for people who might otherwise feel left out. Even though our business is small right now, we are always able to find ways to give back to community.
How can you give back?
Maybe you are in the place where financial or material resources are slim. Is there some way you can give of your time? Traditional volunteer opportunities are always a great way to give back, but you can also just look around you. I guarantee there is an elderly person who would love a visit and a plate of cookies, or a kid who would love someone to play ball with, or a family member or friend who would appreciate a card in the mail. Practice looking for ways to help, and you will quickly get better at seeing them.
Maybe it’s sharing experiences like eating Gluten Free. I love talking to people about it and helping make their life better. I have gone through a lot with it, and if I can help people find a trick or avoid the problems I learned from, I am all about that!
Maybe, in the same way, your time is limited but your physical resources are more abundant. Is there a way you can make a big impact in the life of someone that you know directly? Maybe they could use a car and you can give them yours that you aren’t using. Perhaps you just got that influx of food from your garden, or you can buy them that Christmas turkey. You might know that person who just discovered they need to eat gluten free and they don’t have the money to buy flours or products or delicious brownies. Buy some for them to set them off right! Money isn’t everything, but when it is scarce, it can bring much relief. Even if you feel like you don’t know anyone “poor”, look around. Look for young families who would love to have christmas pjs, a single parent who can’t afford a babysitter, or an elderly person who can’t afford yard service. Private mentoring programs are a great way to show an orphan that someone thinks they are worth investing in.
Can we enable people to be irresponsible?
Yes, we can enable people to be irresponsible by giving. That is one reason that I am a fan of giving to people I know rather than big organizations. You know what is going on in people’s lives. This is also why I love giving resources more than money. It’s much harder to “enable” someone’s poor choices with a basket of fresh garden zucchini than with $200. Don’t forget to assume the best. There are ALWAYS factors that you don’t know about. Someone may look irresponsible on the outside even while there are many factors making them struggle. Get to know people, care about them, invite them into your lives, and then
What does it all mean?
Pour into your community and it will ultimately pour back out to you. Plan to give more than you receive. And keep helping others, whether you ever receive back or not.
Make it a tasty day,