Monday, January 21, 2013

The Backscratcher

The past year or so I have noticed a lot. I've noticed the people around me and those who never really kept in touch. I've seen people come out of the woodwork for no other reason than to be kind, generous and helpful. I've seen the good in people and the not so good in others. Between an old friend who offered to renovate part of my home for free (which is never expected), to those who have simply offered a helping hand in anything they had seen me struggling with. "The good in me seeks the good in you." --Joel Gardner (1942-2007) An acquaintance of mine wrote this on his Twitter account. His father, Joel Gardner used to say this to him. You can read his story here. Everyone said his father was a good man. I remember being at my father's funeral. People came up to me and repeatedly stated, "He was a good man, Deb." Flaws and all, my Dad never stopped giving. He helped people without expectations. He would give you his last dime or pull you out of a ditch even if it was 3am. He'd also protect his family with his life, which sometimes came with a price. We're human. But my point is, I didn't think there were many people out there like Dad - that they were obsolete. Everyone seems to expect the world handed to them on a silver platter. But lately, I'm coming to find out that there are a few good souls out there, just like my dad.  I'm very thankful for that.

We only have one life with a ton of chances to make a difference in people's lives. We can only do the best with what we got. I've seen people whine, grumble, bitch and moan over other people's good fortune or blessings they've received. I've noticed people resenting others for simply having a good day. Everyone's so angry. But the ones who don't have much are usually the ones who give more freely --- not in the monetary sense --- but overall generosity of the heart. Isn't that strange? "All goes well for those who are generous, who lend freely and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil circumstances. Those who are righteous will be long remembered." {Psalm 112:5-6} You can sit in a church pew every single Sunday and say you're "godly" or "Christian", but your actions speak much louder than your words. God blesses the generous with things that money can never buy. Have you ever played Rummy 500 before? I used to play this with my sister for hours upon hours while we were teenagers. She always won. I finally asked what her secret was. She explained that in order to win the game, you have to give away your best card in order to gain anything, resulting in a win. At the time, it was just a "winning strategy" -- but over time, I learned that it was a valuable life lesson.  "If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving--large or small--it will be used to measure what is given back to you." {Luke 6:38}

Giving without expectations are sometimes very difficult for people to do. I don't understand why people give a gift (or help someone) only to regurgitate it. "Well, I did this for you," --- seems to be a tool for those who need something from you or perhaps feel superior with putting past gifts in your face - almost as bad as blackmail. Once you give a gift, best forget you ever gave it. Bringing it up again will drive people away. For instance, if you give me a gift, and then bring it up time after time, or just even one time -- I most likely will steer clear of that person hoping I never get a "surprise gift" or go out with them, as they grab the check, hoping to expect something or at least, have one over on me. Those type of people scare me because their gifts are never genuine. They are filled with expectations of a payback of a much larger sum. Have you ever gone into a deli, or say a cafe or a restaurant and the owner keeps giving you free stuff? In most cases, you'll probably end up avoiding the place because it just feels weird. At least, for me it does. I stopped going to a deli where the owner just kept giving me free stuff. I mean, hell - everyone wants free stuff, but when does it come to the point of awkwardness? Even if his motives were pure, I just had a bad feeling about it and felt bad about not paying. He would never accept my money, so I stopped going.

The best types of gifts are the ones money can't buy. Time spent with a friend. Bringing soup to someone's who's sick. Offering a helping hand in someone's project. Smiling at a perfect stranger. Listening to someone without talking. Apologize. Forgive, even if it doesn't seem "forgivable".  Not only is the receiver appreciative, but for person giving, dopamine is released in our brain giving us a pleasurable euphoric type of feeling. If it's the one thing I've learned from Dad, it's that you can never give enough. In the same breath, you also have to be kind to "you" - nourish your own well-being before you can help someone else. If we don't take care of ourselves, we'll never be able to take care of anyone else. The same with love. And as the brilliant and lovely RuPaul states, "If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?" That saying, "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," means giving with expectations. Just give me a backscratcher and I'll simply say 'thank you'.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!