Got a Need? Give your way out of it.

My wife and I just had our first baby, and as everyone predicted (in no particular order): We have lost sleep (and hope to find it again someday), we can now change a diaper in the dark in under fifteen seconds, we are in constant awe and amazement, and our world has indeed been turned upside down.

When your world is turned upside down, whether for joy or for tragedy, it seems to attract both people and food. The food is (usually) a welcome gift because it’s one less thing to have to think about while you try to right yourself in the new season that has arrived.

When it was easy to come home and cook dinner (before our little one arrived), I took for granted how great it was to have a hot meal to sit down to and enjoy. Now it’s a little (lot) harder, and we so appreciate the effort people went through to bring us dinners for a little while – it enabled us to put our focus on trying to learn how to be parents.

As a result, never in my life have I appreciated more having a meal provided for me. I went from the kind of person who would have had trouble accepting that kind of help to the kind of person who opened our front door wide for the parade of food that descended upon us.

Talking with a friend about this season that we are in, I reflected on what to do with that appreciation. Obviously, thanking the people who came by to feed us was a start, but my friend challenged me to use that appreciation to meet someone’s similar need. His point was that the appreciation inside me was there so that I could understand how much I valued having that need met. This was the time to provide the same thing, while the iron was hot and the need was most felt.

So we’ve gotten a little creative, sometimes it’s a take-out pizza with a box of salad (by that I mean the boxy-type things some store-bought salad comes with now) – I’ve had to swallow the pride of wanting to show up with a fully prepared meal.

Honestly, it was rather easy to provide a meal since so many meals had been provided for us, but I asked myself – would I have still been willing to provide a meal during our time of need even if no one had shown up at our door? That’s the challenge I’ve given myself going forward – to identify my needs and try to meet them in one other person’s life even if that need has not (yet) been met in my life.

So your challenge this week is the same. What’s your need right now? It might be a meal, but it also might be money for Christmas gifts, a gift of time, or just a note or word of encouragement. Whatever your need is, see if you can think of someone in your life with the same need and do your best to meet that need in their life.

While it’s true that meeting their need may not change yours, you will have done two very important things – you will have increased your capacity for generosity and met a very real need for someone else. Both have the added effect of impacting your spirit of generosity, which is a need for all of us.

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