Generosity-the knitter’s heart

She said of me: “you are constantly showing your generosity with all things yarny, and I would lay money down you do the same in all other aspects of your life!” The context of this quote is that I volunteered to knit a lace scarf for a friend that I’ve never met using my own yarn without wanting anything in return. Swapping yarn with people around the world in an online knitting group feels…good, for lack of a better word. Having never met most of the people I interact with on a daily basis from behind my computer screen allows me to be a person who can do things for other people without hesitation or expectation of reward. I have made a home with these friends. Additionally, having time to compose a response to a conversation before actually responding makes my introverted heart happy. But am I truly the person I seem to them? Does it matter? I’m not fake to them. I’m not so different of a person that I wouldn’t really do these things in the “real world” if given the chance. So why have I thought of this comment for so long after she said it?

I’m not as generous as she thinks I am. I’m not brave enough. I read stories of people paying for the drive-thru order of the people behind them and I want to do that. In fact, one morning while getting a biscuit at McDonald’s, I looked in the rearview mirror and in the car behind me, I saw a woman who was probably just like me–getting breakfast on her way to work. I wanted to pay for her order because I was feeling pretty upbeat and happy that day. But I didn’t because I didn’t have the nerve.

At work we draw names out of a hat at the beginning of the school year and the co-worker whose name you draw becomes your ‘secret angel’. You spend the rest of the school year buying them treats each month. It’s all anonymous until the last week of school when we reveal who we have been buying for all year. This year, I drew the name of a colleague with whom I am good friends. It’s been nice doing things for her all year without her knowing it is me. Perhaps my uncomfortableness with being the focus of attention is what prevents me from stepping up and going the extra step to do something kind. My faith teaches me that you shouldn’t be boastful with your good deeds–certainly this is the reason so many touching stories on the news reveal that the good Samaritan wishes to remain anonymous.

But even taking that into consideration doesn’t change the fact that I could do better. I’m a teacher, I try to do good things for my students every day–but it’s my job, I get paid to make sure I’m doing the best for those I teach. Though I have decided I don’t want to treat the kids like my co-teacher who is very much at the end of his career and frankly, just doesn’t care anymore, as evidenced by his daily comments of wanting to quit and how tired he is of everything school related.

Where in my life can I be more generous? I’ve thought more and more about this given that it’s the third week of Lent and I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do differently. It’s not about giving something up anymore, it’s about doing good for others. It’s hard to think of something while sitting in the silence of my home, another day having passed. I suppose it’s a day-by-day kind of thing. I need to see the opportunities as they appear in my everyday life. The opportunities that people take advantage of and then say “that was my good deed for the day”. For now though, until a new day arises, I’m going to continue knitting the scarf that I have been working on for my online friend until my eyes grow dry and tired like they do at the end of every day. An unfinished scarf to keep busy an eager heart.

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From Meaningless to Meaningful

My words have become meaningless. My health has become questionable. And yet, I continue to tell my husband, “I know I keep saying this, but I really need to start running again”. Even as my blood pressure and weight continue to increase, I continue to make repeated stops at fast food restaurants that do not serve my best interest.

There was a day recently that I discovered I could motivate myself to ‘get back out there’ if I listened to the playlist of songs I listened to when I would run. That day, I actually put on my running gear and left my apartment and began walking up the road to the neighborhood that I always ran in. Naively I thought that I would just start the Couch 2 5K program again and all would be well. I ignored the fact that the last time I was successful with the program, I had completed about 3 weeks of getting on my elliptical for 30 minutes every day. I didn’t even make it to the neighborhood that day. The familiar feel of my ankles and shins tightening up began early on in my walk. Usually I could just continue to walk and the tightening would ease, not this time. The pain spread and intensified throughout my legs. I had to turn around and admit defeat for the day, complete with a limping walk of shame back home. Shame might be too strong of a word, but it did make me realize that I truly will have to start over.

That day, though recent enough to even be called recent, was still at least 2 weeks ago. I didn’t try again, I didn’t get on the elliptical, I just didn’t…I continued in the same manner of laziness that I had accustomed myself into.

I don’t want to try and explain my laziness. I don’t want to try and analyze why I don’t “just do it” when I know that eating better and exercising makes me feel good. The discomfort I feel in my stomach when I eat junk will go away! Exercise improves my mood! My clothes becoming looser is empowering! These words are not meaningless. They are the words that I should be telling myself every morning when I make a conscious decision to skip breakfast at home, or pick up a biscuit on the way to work because it would be quicker and easier. They are the words that I should be reminded of when I come home in the afternoon and sit on the couch, having already decided that I would rather grade papers or surf the web instead of getting on the elliptical.

Words have power, and when I told my husband tonight that he and I should go walking on the local river trail after church tomorrow, I think I will mean it.