Meet my brother-in-law Bill the Fabulous. We’ve had family SWAT weekend for years now. The hosting family comes up with a serious Fix-It list and feeds the family and we get stuff done. We’ve built stone walls and decks and fixed windows and basements etc. Bill is our family bathroom specialist. He’s also a professional writer and his message today is one you don’t want to miss.
In the act of giving, what you give, how much, or how frequently doesn’t matter. Whether you click a link and let PayPal anonymously wire $25 into someone’s half marathon fundraiser, run that half marathon yourself, or dedicate six months of your life to a cause, the underlying fundamentals of what you enable are the same.
Giving is a judgement-free zone, but sometimes we’re our own worst critics, frozen by the philanthropic version of analysis paralysis. What’s $25 going to solve? And is a monetary donation somehow less meaningful than volunteering in-person or donating specific materials? How is my time, in the end, going to really contribute anything?
Those are hurdles that actually twist the act of giving from selfless to selfish, because, really, it becomes about you, not the folks who have to do the asking and thoughts like those certainly trample your budding generosity.
Sometimes, too, giving means participating, getting close and having a good, long look into someone’s personal space.
Let’s apply this to, say, a major home remodeling project. A significant undertaking, right? Beaucoup bucks, specific skill requirements, a seemingly overwhelming task involving a crowd of specialists.
But think of the opportunities here. I have, because I was lucky enough to participate in one of the most phenomenal events I’ve ever witnessed—the reconstruction of the Bowie house .
Folks gave money, they gave supplies, time and baked cookies. They built walls, babysat, ran errands, painted and swept up the sawdust. There were shocking acts of surprising kindness appearing out of nowhere all the time, from close friends, family and strangers.
And, in a feat that’s as impressive as the coming together of the community that rebuilt their house, the Bowies gave themselves over to it, accepting the heaping kindness and living with a revolving door of helpful, cheery passers-through armed with hammers, paint brushes and cookies, stopping by for a few hours here, half a day there and leaving behind cookie crumbs, a new floor, mowed lawn, painted wall or reshingled roof.
But the beauty is in the small things, too. And that’s where you come in.
Because, amazingly, the Bowie House experience has spilled over into another project The BARN Project. And you lucky folks familiar with the joy and satisfaction that came out of creating an accessible home-space for Aidan? You get to do it all over again. Anyone else who might be reading this, now’s your chance. Nothing is too big or small to give.
The heroes are the folks who do the ‘big, complicated work’ of electrical, carpentry and plumbing. The other equally heroic folks are the ones who take the kids to the movies and give mom and dad some quiet time, or take mom to get her nails done. Or hammer those other nails and tidy up the yard. Or drop off a sixer for dad or bake some nachos supreme.
Because that nail you hammered in a little bit crooked? That one measly nail? That’s your nail, dammit. And it’s holding two pieces of wood together that are holding up a roof. Of. A. House. Same thing with that lasagna you baked—it fueled someone who built that roof. Of. A. House. Ditto for that sort-of sketchy paint job, because, honestly, no one cares about that smudge on the ceiling—you just helped build a damn house. A house with space that instantly lets a boy unfurl his wings of mobility.
Don’t get in your own way. What you give matters, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Because in the aggregate, even the little contributions are like tiny keystones that not only hold together a physical structure, they form the foundation of humanity. How’s that for high drama? But it’s true. Just because you can’t pay for the entire lumber supply or single-handedly re-frame the new living room doesn’t mean you can’t have a dramatic impact on someone’s life.
And, as my wonderful sister-in-law has said many times, events like this become even bigger than the already significant act of helping a family. It propagates—like bunnies. It binds community in a church, town or even more broadly.
It’s like World War G (G, for ‘giving.’ Get it?).
I’m very excited to be attending the BARN project kickoff event tomorrow morning. I will be photo fabulous and press ready because when giving propagates like bunnies, I want in on the action. Please consider joining us on this project. To learn more about Miles and his family, go here.