The Season of Giving is about Service.
Giving. Usually this sentiment is associated with tangible, material things. Presents, food, stuff. While those things are wonderful – who doesn’t like a good gift? – I have come to the understanding that giving is much more than that. While gifts require some thought, resources and a bit of effort, there really is no personal sacrifice involved. In working a program of recovery, many of us have learned the being of service to others is the most satisfying and meaningful gift that one can give.
In being of service, it is most often the case that I need to make an effort to give of my time and energy to others, who are usually less fortunate than I. Doing this makes an impact in ways a gift might never. First, there is benefit that others get through my actions, that those efforts are helping them to improve the quality of their lives. Next is the benefit to my community. When I help individuals, it has a positive ripple effect on their interaction with and how they treat others. And, equally as important, is the effect it has on me. When helping others who may be less fortunate or in need, I become grateful for the situation that I am in, what I have, the quality of my life. This helps me to be less pessimistic, less self-centered, and puts what I DO have into perspective. As I am service to others, I help them, my community, AND myself.
More often than not, I don’t want to help others. I am too busy, I have my own problems, it is inconvenient. That is where the sacrifice piece comes in. Being of service, especially when I don’t want to, makes the giving all the more special and impactful. I am fighting my urge to be selfish, putting the needs of others before mine, and making the effort to go help those that need it. I have never left a service experience and not felt as though it was emotionally meaningful. And even more so, when I did not want to do it and had to push myself to do so.
In the upcoming season of giving, please find a way that you can be of service. There are so many opportunities available and so many people that need the help. Do one thing, help one person, sacrifice of your personal time, and the results will be amazing. I am not saying not to give your loved ones gifts, no one wants to hear that. In addition to that, be of service, altruistically, to a cause or people who have no idea who you are. Make a difference in their lives. Give the gift of service.
Paul L. Scudo is the Executive Director of Step Denver and is in recovery from the disease of addiction.