A GIVING LEGACY

My roommate is amazing. Jene’ does so much against incredible adversity… and yet she would be the first to say, “that’s life.” I could list her adversities, but they are not important to the story. We all have our adversity. Granted, she has more adversity than most people I know, but she lives in such a way that most people forget what she’s up against, and that’s how Jene’ wants it.

The important part of her story is what she does in spite of her adversities. Take today for example. Jene’ volunteers for Lifehouse, an organization that helps young, unwed mothers. Jene’ (a nurse) volunteers as a birthing coach for these teenage girls. Jene’ took over the holiday weekend shift because the volunteer on duty had a family emergency. While I slept, Jene’ left and one baby was delivered. She came home, slept about an hour and in her delirium had a dream that I had eloped and left her a note on my bed and did not say who I was eloping with (since I am not dating, I don’t know who that would be either). I just had to throw that in… and I claim it as prophecy. Anyway, I heard her leave again right around 10 a.m. This particular 15 year old had gone into labor 2 months early. By the time it was all said and done and the doctors had done everything they could, Jene’ ended up holding the baby boy until he quit breathing.

To be honest with you, I don’t know if I could have done what she did without completely falling to pieces. She came home, very tired, and tearfully relayed the story to me. I cried, too, knowing how much she had to be hurting physically, emotionally and not to put too fine a point on it, spiritually. There are some things on this earth that I’ll never be able to wrap my brain around, and I know this was one of those moments for both of us, but especially Jene’. Hopefully, she’s sleeping now, resting up to go back to work tomorrow.

I realized today why Jene’ can give so much, and why some people like me have difficulty with even simple ways to give. Jene’s “give” tank has been filled constantly since she was born. She was told there wasn’t anything she couldn’t do by parents who not only believed that, but embodied that belief in everything they did themselves. Jene’ was taught life skills, coping skills, loving skills and giving skills by the people who brought her into this world. They prepared her for life by preparing her to give back, and I realized today my give tank level is horrendously low. One reason is because I have given a tremendous amount, but the problem is, I haven’t stopped to figure out how to refill it. I have also realized that the way I learned to give is in total detriment to self, a martyr style of service — that was my model. I also was never taught how to receive, but that’s another blog.

I will not turn this into a pity party. I don’t feel sorry for myself, I’ve simply had this epiphany. I used to compare myself with Jene’ a lot in this area of giving and wondered how she could do so much, and now I know why. The deficiency in my give tank isn’t an excuse not to serve, but it brings some things into focus for me. I realize why some people get burned out. Sometimes, it’s a balance issue, when some people don’t rest or give back to themselves or an avoidance issue — busy-ness rather than facing issues in their own lives. At other times, people who were raised in the martyr style of giving wear themselves out and never discover the joy of giving and therefore burn out easily. I now know why, however, that some balanced, healthy people get burned out. Their give tanks either were never full to begin with or they emptied their tanks without knowing how to refill them. I’m not saying Jene’ never gets tired or burns out, but she knows how to refill her give tank and she knows how to rest. She was not born with this quality, she learned/absorbed these skills from two people I am also proud to call family — her parents.

Do I throw up my hands and say, “it’s too late!” No. It’s never to late to learn giving skills and fill up a give tank. The best way to learn is to surround yourself with people who have these skills and give of them freely, watch, learn, and then DO WHAT THEY DO. It’s a proven pattern of learning in other areas of life. It seems silly, doesn’t it? Learning how to give? Giving should be as natural as breathing, right? Trouble is, most people are centered inward, and giving is always centered outward. Not only is our nature centered inward, if we are not taught or shown how to give, then we won’t. It’s that simple.

Jene’ has blessed others because she continues her family’s legacy of giving. If I ignore this opportunity to learn and fill my give tank (and all other tanks for that matter), I’d be a fool, (and I don’t suffer fools gladly). With God, there are no accidents –of timing, placement, proximity or otherwise — it’s just sometimes I walk around with my eyes closed and my ears plugged. And heaven help the person whose give tank overflows… what a waste. I don’t see that happening in Jene’s family — ever.

Sleep well, Jene’.

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