Last week, we discovered how generosity would transform our hearts and minds in preparation for this season of Thanksgiving. As we look forward to this week, spending time with family and friends, we should now look to discover how this gratitude will manifest itself in our actions.
As I was exiting the freeway today, there was a homeless man holding a sign on the side of the road. I am sure, by now, we all know the feeling. As the red light drags on, not seeming to change anytime soon, you begin to feel a twinge of anxiety, guilt, or discomfort. You may reach to turn up the radio a little louder, you may turn your gaze in the opposite direction, or you may just wait, hoping for the light to turn green a little quicker. But, something transformative happened during those minutes that I was stopped at that light. I saw the man pass by me and as I looked back in my rearview mirror, I saw a person from the car behind me give him some money. Then, I saw him cross over to receive money from another person in the car next to me. You could call it social peer-pressure, but something in my heart changed and within seconds I found myself giving some spare dollars to the man. The decision I made to follow suit of those complete strangers had to be more than social peer-pressure, though. It had to be something deeper, something that has the capacity to transform hearts and remind us of our shared humanity. It had to be the product of generosity. You see, it was the generosity of others that inspired me to be generous with what I had. It was almost as if the hearts of those complete strangers opened up a wave of communication between us all: reminding us of our shared humanness and encouraging us to act out of compassion.
It takes only one drop in a pool of water to cause a ripple effect. Whether that drop is monumental or miniscule, it still creates a change in the waters. That is how our generosity impacts those around us. It takes one action, one decision, to affect a multitude of change. It takes one heartfelt response to change the hearts of others. It is this generosity that we share and exchange with our fellow humans around the world that binds us all together. Our actions, then, are a response of the condition of our hearts. What started with allowing gratitude to transform the depths of our hearts finishes with this sense of thankfulness that begins to manifest itself in our actions. When we allow gratitude to transform the condition of our hearts, the thankfulness in thought begins to manifest itself in our actions.
A thankful heart does not find itself complete in the confines of our minds, but it is set free in the sincerity of our actions. Then, when we allow our responses to flow out of our thankfulness, when we allow our actions to mimic the gratitude that has transformed our hearts, we will notice a difference in the way that we act towards one another. When gratitude grips our hearts and generosity claims our actions, we will begin to perceive of one another in a drastically different way; we will begin to place the needs of others above the needs of ourselves. This way that we reorient the priorities in our lives, in placing the wellness of another before the wellness of our own selves, becomes our trademark.
Whether our action is big or small, it adds to the culmination of all our actions in a way that makes a lasting impact. You see, when we act generously, we inspire others to act generously. The impact of our generosity, then, stretches far beyond its immediate recipient, but it has the capacity to transform communities. Our generosity can also transform selfishness to selflessness, weakness to strength, greed to compassion, hopelessness to hopefulness, and despair to restoration. When we continue to send ripples of change into our communities, we will begin to see the world change. When we unite the total of our ripple effects, the collectivity of our actions, we will make generosity the emblem of our generation.
So, as we approach this holiday of thankfulness, as we are reminded of every person and experience that has impacted our lives for the better, let us wear this emblem of generosity with pride, and let us encourage those around us to do the same. With our hearts full of gratitude and our actions marked with generosity, let us inspire others to give freely and love deeply. In light of this year’s holiday, here are some ways that you can send out your ripple effect in your communities:
Donate or volunteer at a local mission or food bank:
Express your gratitude to a soldier serving in our armed forces,
And, if anything else, you can simply open your heart or open your home to someone in need of community and friendship this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!