Yesterday I gave a simple gift, and the one I received in return has consumed my thoughts.
Each year since the late 90’s my sister and I attend a Tim McGraw concert. I wish we would have chronicled our journey, but we think it started in college when Tim was at a festival with George Strait, then several state fairs and finally his headlining tours plus a couple of Soul 2 Souls tours with his wife, Faith Hill.
More than a concert
In our younger years, the night was about the concert and spending a little time together. Now it means so much more. We both live crazy busy lives and reside four hours apart. Now it has turned into quality time with a bonus of a Tim McGraw concert. For instance this weekend we got a hotel room, ordered room service, talked and laughed hours before and after the concert. No matter how busy life gets, we are intentional each year making this happen.
As we walked from our hotel to the concert, we passed a homeless man sitting on the ground holding a sign. I had no money, but I had something better. My smile. I made eye contact with him and smiled. And guess what? The sad look on his face soon changed to a smile.
I wondered how many, if any, smiles he received over the course of his day. He was sitting at an intersection, and as we were waiting to cross I hear a man behind me say, “Would you like some pizza? It’s really good.”
The homeless man responded so kindly. "Yes, sir. Thank you so much.”
“No problem man. Enjoy!” responded the stranger.
As I stood there on the corner, I thought how cool? Within moments this young man saw the best humankind has to offer. Maybe he was fed both mentally and physically.
Humble and Kind
As we continued onto the concert, I passed two more men with signs. I again smiled with no response. Selfishly I felt a bit rejected but then I thought back to my definition of a gift. Give something and expect nothing in return. In the past, this rejection would have stopped me from continuing to smile at strangers. As it's awkward when you smile at someone and they don't smile back. But what I learned is when your excuse you come up with not to give has to do with you and not the receiver, that's selfish. When you make it about them and not you, the response doesn't matter. You've done your part. You can't control another person.
During the concert, there was a moving moment when Tim sang his #1 song Humble and Kind. If you haven’t heard the song, check it out and pay close attention to the lyrics. Tears streamed down my face as Tim sang and I thought back to the homeless man I’d smiled at hours earlier. Humbling to acknowledge I'm no more important than a man begging on the street and kind that I’d recognize him instead of diverting attention which I’ve shamelessly done many times in the past.
I've had numerous debates with people on my giving journey about giving money to the homeless. They always ask the same question. What if they buy drugs or alcohol? What if they don't need the money and are scammers? I've thought about these questions a lot. I've concluded that if I put expectations on money I'm giving, then it’s not a gift. What if they aren't using the money for drugs or alcohol? What if they are homeless? What if your gift is the turning point in their life? If you aren't comfortable giving money, then give a smile. It costs you nothing.
The Giving Challenge
Today your Giving Challenge is moving forward you are humble and kind to all you meet. As the old saying goes…” Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” (attributed to Plato and Ian Maclaren)
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About the Author:
Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. She challenges people to live their dream, discover their gifts, and do amazing things!
You can contact Stephanie by email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com