It’s a conundrum, really.
How can something little actually be bigger than it initially appears?
Well, consider this:
Have you ever helped a friend with something simple, perhaps picking up something at the grocery store, and they gushed with appreciation?
Have you ever given a small gift that the recipient treasured more than it’s actual worth?
Have you ever been immensely grateful for a small act of thoughtfulness?
It’s all about the perspective through the eyes of the recipient.
Small things become big when done with a caring heart
This holds true for so much of what we do, get or give. For instance, have you ever had to navigate a double set of doors to exit a department store while pushing a stroller?
It sounds like a game show event: “And now Sally reaches the most difficult part of the course, where she will need to grow a set of octopus arms to reach the first door handle, push and hold it open to roll the baby through, and then do it again for the second set of doors, while avoiding being squashed by those heavy doors. Let’s see how she does, Bob. Look—what a surprise!—she was helped by a friendly bystander who is holding the door open so she could easily roll outside. Just look at that smile, Bob, and listen to that heartfelt thank you!”
A simple act of kindness can feel almost inconsequential when you give, and yet seem so much bigger when you are the recipient.
Small gifts become treasures when given with love
As we look to any gift giving occasion, we may suffer from the “more expensive is better” malady. After all, marketing tells us that our children must have the coolest new toys so their fragile self esteem is not damaged. That same advertising says that if we really care about our family, we will spend thousands on each of them for Christmas. You may have felt that peer pressure to spend hundreds of dollars on your two year old’s birthday when she would have been ecstatic with pot lids, wooden spoons and empty cardboard boxes. You might have spent thousands on a parent when he really would have preferred your company for a few days.
One of the issues here is that spending lots of money is actually the path of least effort. Conversely, spending less often may take more effort, but it also means you may be sharing more of your heart and your time.
For example, I wrote previously about the power of the written word as a great Father’s Day gift:
Many years ago, my hubbie decided to write a letter to his dad, Marshall, for Father’s Day. We had become parents of a premature baby girl in January of that year, and had gained a new perspective and much greater respect for our parents. Funny how that works…
Keith put his blue pen to an unadorned piece of lined notebook paper, and poured out a simple message of love and gratitude to his very straightforward, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, old school dad.
I don’t remember Keith writing or giving this present, nor do I recall Marshall’s reaction. What I do know now, however, is this: Keith’s dad carefully folded up that note, and carried it with him, in his wallet, for the twelve remaining years of his life.
Allow your heart to help guide your decisions in gift giving. What may seem embarrassingly small or inexpensive to you may very well be priceless to another.
Getting to the heart of the matter
When you offer kindness, through words, deeds, or gifts, it is magnified through the lens of love and/or general good-heartedness through which it is offered. Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
If you are having an especially tough day with the kids, having a friend offer moral support is invaluable. If you have been going through a rough patch in life, receiving a card of encouragement can help you carry on. If you are a blogger who wonders if what you write matters, having a reader email a note letting you know how you lifted her up will encourage you exponentially.
Last week, I wrote about finding gratitude in the hard places and so many of you shared what you were grateful for in your lives.
This week, I would love to have you share either how you were touched as a giver or receiver via something that started small.
Here is my contribution:
Due to a change in work, we had planned on moving to a new city this month, away from our family and friends. It did not work out, and we told our church community last week we would be staying put. We received such sweet, sweet words of love from them, of being sorry it did not work out, but of them being so glad we would still be there. Their outpouring of love touched me to the core, and my eyes tear up just thinking about it.
Now here are some ideas to jump start the process for you:
Pick a flower, give it to a family member, friend or co-worker
Catch a child doing something good, and tell them using encouragement rather than praise
Give a gift from the heart, such as spending time or writing a letter
Write a sticky note of thanks or support to a co-worker or boss
Open a door or carry a bag of groceries
Visit a nursing home and share an hour of time and an activity, such as reading aloud or playing an instrument
Bake a batch of cookies for co-workers.
Make a double batch of dinner, and share it with someone in need.
I look forward to hearing from each of you how your lives have been touched or have touched others!
Colossians 3:12 NIV Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Image credit-Peasap via flickr