I've never been a gracious receiver. Never. Looking back, I might have been able to pull off gracious, except for all the long pauses where I had to take a deep breath and remind myself not to say anything but words of thankfulness. So after seeing the last person out the door I returned to my house and literally sat and stared at the gifts wondering what to do next. I didn't move a single bag that day. Or the next day. Or the day after that. Finally, nearly a full week later I was tired of avoiding them so I made the decision to do exactly as they tell you to do with a band aid, rip it off fast and it won't hurt. So I tried that. I hurriedly emptied bags and found places for the things. I literally prayed I would see familiar walmart brand names, so I'd know they weren't too expensive, and instead found the JcPenney stamp on almost everything.
That's when the pressure I've felt all along changed drastically. I have many people that are expecting good things from me. There's a pressure that comes with that knowledge that drives me to do well. But that pressure changes entirely when people spend their hard earned money to buy you nice things that will last, because they expect you to do well. They've invested. I feel obligated to make sure they see a return on their investment.
All that leads me to my main point in this post, so follow me on this if you can.
Most of us have someone, maybe just one someone, but there's someone out there that we know we've impacted their life. Not just a child or family member, but someone other than family that you grew to know and ended up impacting their life.
I've got one person like that. When I joined CASA, she talked about joining CASA. As I became a foster parent, she talked about becoming a foster parent. And when I went through the process of buying a house, she talked about moving. So I encouraged her to consider buying a house rather than forever renting. She closed on her house yesterday, and I couldn't be more proud for her.
She's someone that most people wouldn't expect anything great from. People overlook her, or try not to look at her. Some of the opportunities I've had, she'll never have, because she makes a rough first impression. It took time to get to know her and see her heart. But she had dreams of her own, hopes and desires. I wasn't the only cog in the wheel that spurred her on, but I'm glad that I could be a part of it at all. I told her things were possible, when she didn't think they were (she informed me multiple times that she'd never be able to get a home loan), but it happened.
And having someone believing in her, helped give her the courage to try.
Even though sometimes I wish I could shrug off the weight of peoples expectations, I realize how
Almost everyone has dreams. But it takes faith and encouragement to make those dreams into goals. And it takes a whole lot more faith and encouragement to make those goals reality. The homeless bum on the street corner may have at one time wanted to be a doctor. The trashiest hookers in Los Angeles were at one time little girls that may have wanted to be a veterinary, or a marine biologist, or an artist. And that drunk you met 15 years ago? I bet you never would have known that God had called him to preach the gospel.
Be an encourager. Encourage the lady checking you out at walmart. Strengthen the resolve of the kid that mowed your yard. Let the words constantly be on your lips from the moment you get your sausage biscuit from the lady leaning out the window at McDonalds, to the last person you see before crawling into your bed at night.
If you don't want to live in a world where people just simply exist from day to day, draining the welfare system, and wasting their lives, then maybe you should do something about it.
I believe you can make a difference.