Consider this thought from Jim Rohn:
Only by giving are you able to receive more than you already have.
Leaving behind Oregon’s impossibly tall trees, driving southeast through California and into Arizona, Elisha and I were on a mission: To get our friend, Charity, settled in Tucson for astrophysics grad school at the University of Arizona.
Charity, Elisha, Bug (a PomChi), and me
Before graduating with honors from University of Oregon, Charity served as a NASA intern, published a research paper in the Astrophysical Journal, was awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship, and was accepted at five top astrophysics grad programs, accomplishing most of this while dealing with grief and the post-traumatic symptoms that come from having watched – helplessly, hysterically – as a sneaker wave snatched her husband and three-year-old son out to sea off the coast of Oregon.
As Elisha and I set out to support Charity in her move away from all that was familiar, we returned wealthier than when we drove away from Oregon—no surprise.
There were several other people involved in this particular giving story.
Friends paid for the truck rental; along the route, a sis- and bro-in-law housed us, and a nephew and nieces threw a lovely dinner party; a girlfriend surprised us with a Starbux gift card (which we put to good use out in the middle of a desert place called Tehachapi); another sis- and bro-in-law purchased my return flight with their airline miles; and a friend picked me up at the airport with a supply of groceries. Thank you, Jim & Deb, Steve & Cheryl, Ryan & Julie, Angie, Heidi, Bree, Ann, Lonnie & Karen, and Susan!
The wealth returned to us on this particular adventure showed up in the form of deeper connections, much laughter, and a sense of accomplishment. Oh, and spa treatment.
The most valuable payback for me was a strengthening of our relationships. I already had a bond with both these young women. I’ve known them since junior high; I was their high school cheerleading coach.
But that connection was reinforced this past week because of our joint mission, because of all the conversations around important issues, like, life and love, and work demands, and being female in a male-dominated field, and having dreams and chasing them down, and which nail polish color would be best. Those conversations.
I can’t remember laughing this much in a long, long time. Gleeful, bubbly, side-hurting laughter, beginning with Elisha’s classic Chinese fire drill in stalled SoCal traffic, but certainly not ending there (these girls haven’t changed much since high school).
Sense of accomplishment
Great joy comes from accomplishing something worthwhile — filling kitchen cupboards and drawers, folding towels and sheets into a hall closet, tearing down boxes, and utilizing public transportation through the local Home Depot …
… to purchase bricks and rough boards to create some epic bookshelves (which held only about half of Charity’s books).
Late-night manis and pedis and facials is how a small group of women should always celebrate productive days. Should. Always. (I almost posted a photo of the three of us in black facial masks, but your dogs would have howled. And so you were spared. You can thank me later.)
This thought from Ann Voskamp in her book, The Broken Way:
It isn’t having that makes us rich; it’s giving. Give sacrificially, live richly.
Charity thanked Elisha and me more than once — profusely — during these past six days of crossing deserts in a big, rattly truck, and hefting boxes, and purchasing toilet paper and outlet converters, and trying out local eateries.
But as it turned out, it was Elisha and I who should thank her for the gift she gave us: Letting us be part of this next chapter in her story.
I suspect every time we reach out in love—whether giving of our time, or resources, or expertise—our hearts expand a little more. And my hope is they never deflate back to Before Giving.