Monday, June 6, 2011

Generosity: Small Steps


I recently read 'Five Practices of A Fruitful Congregation', technically AFTER my church did, but I digress. Many of the beginning Practices outlined in the book I have mastered, and still do. But much like my health triangle, my Practices triangle is a bit obtuse. (We have a graphic posted in our church of the Five Practices and it makes a triangle)

Anyway, the point is, I'm not Generous!

So I tried to begin today. I made 10 copies of a Thank You card on Word and signed them and handed them out at school to the 10 teachers and aides I work with.

Firstly, I made them with all good intentions. I have a very hard time saying thank you when it is needed. I just sometimes think my gratitude is implied. Why I think that, I have no idea, and it has gotten me in trouble in the past.

Thus, when I got to school, part of me wanted to pretend I hadn't made them and just end the year in silence. I didn't get to write in a personal note to each one. They were not store bought or fancy or really special. They felt weak, and I began to get embarrassed.

But I decided to push through, covertly handing out two cards on teacher's desks who were out of the room. Then I wandered to another classroom and did the same. I was feeling better, like a Secret Santa, on some mission of behind-the-scenes gifting. I enjoy doing things to make people feel good that I don't have to own up to.

In the third classroom, the teacher was present. CONFRONTATION! I began to feel my cheeks grow red and I planned my attack. Swoop in, look at floor, say a phrase to make little of the gesture, exit.

Surprisingly, the teacher said, "Oh you are so kind! Usually people hate me because I yell at them."

Floored, I began to wonder how many times she was thanked in her life. I had to reply. I made a lighthearted comment. "It comes with the territory!" So true. I meant that the students she has are often difficult, but I guess that could go for staff, too.. I considered this. Then I stopped considering it because that would require me to cast judgment on the other faculty. That only causes trouble. I do wish this teacher would praise the students more, however that's a style difference.

I then handed out the rest of my cards in person, with the phrase "I made a little thank you card for everyone." I received small thanks in return, as is custom and polite. It was all over. I finished my lunch.

I should sum this up by stating something that I learned, but I won't. I did it. I stepped out of my comfort zone a tiny bit and have a tiny story about it. Nothing huge happened, no vast emotional bridges were crossed and burned, and I don't feel a strong sense of accomplishment.

This is just a stepping stone. Let's hope I keep taking small steps like this because one day I will be able to turn back and say 'See how far I've come?'

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