It was a hard few years, I must admit. It had taken its toll on the finances as the years rolled by and I had to pay for university. I was living in a one room apartment with an old beat up couch, a wobbly old kitchen table with two chairs, a small black and white TV sitting on a book case made out of old two by six lumber supported with bricks. It wasn't pretty but it did do the job.
Could They Get Worse
But, times were getting worse and I needed some financial help. I didn't need a lot, just a bit. But, let's go back in time to tell this story a little more clearly. For two years before I went to university, I had lived over a shoe store with very little to do on weekends. So, I usually went for a walk in the downtown area. One Sunday morning, I stopped at the corner not far from my shoe store apartment and said hello to the bus inspector on the corner who was busy making sure all the buses were keeping to their schedule.
He wasn't exactly friendly but he also wasn't rude. I think he was more surprised than anything that someone would stop and start to chat with him on a bleak, lonely Sunday morning. This ritual developed into several times a week and went on for several years during which we became quite close friends. Since I had moved further away to attend university, I would visit him on Sunday morning.
Just One Condition
On one of these days, he asked how I was getting on. I was a little reluctant to tell him my troubles but I thought I'd at least have a friendly ear to talk to so I told him I was in a bit of a bind. He asked me specifically what I needed, so I told him. He stood there for only a few seconds and then turned to face me directly. He told me he belonged to an organization that would probably be able to help me but it would be done on one condition. That condition had nothing to do with paying the money back, or anything like that. The condition was that I would agree to help someone else in need during my life, in other words, to give back.
Those few short and simple words stuck with me over the entire course of my life. And, it was to be a helping hand to many over the years as a result. But, here is just one time that giving back meant more to the person than I could have ever imagined.
One of Many Opportunities
At my place of work, I happened to meet a single mother getting by but without the means to do anything but survive. Both her parents were dead, and she had no other family members to help her. Over the months, I also found out that the old car she was driving had several problems that she needed to get repaired or she would not be able to drive it, and therefore, couldn't get to work, and she couldn't afford a taxi everyday.
One morning, I happened to pass by her on my way to another department and noticed that she had tears in her eyes.
I couldn't help but stop and ask her what was wrong. She was reluctant to talk but I sensed she really wanted to. So, I asked her again if something was wrong and could I help. She started to cry again and blurted out that she had only one possession from her father and that it was a special Bible. She went on to say that she had to pawn if for eight hundred dollars in order to get her car repaired and that it was really unlikely that she would ever have enough money to get her father's Bible back.
I told her that I may be able to help and not to worry, and left.
That night, I discussed the situation of this single mother with my wife. She was also upset and agreed that we should help her so she could afford to get her father's Bible back. We both agreed that we would give her eight hundred dollars with the condition that she would help somebody else during her life.
But Just One Condition
The next morning before she was supposed to start work, I asked her to come outside on the pretence to meet my wife. After introductions, we told her that we wanted to help and handed her an envelope with the money inside and told her she could now get her father's Bible back. Before we could tell her the one condition, she started to cry and said through tears that she couldn't afford to pay us back. We then told her that there was no repayment necessary on the condition that she would help someone else at some point in her life. Her surprise was apparent and she turned to both of us and said, "You must be angels."
An Opportunity For Us All
Those words although unnecessary have stuck with me to do this day. Just by helping a little when someone is need and is hurting is a true reflection of giving back. Maybe, just maybe, more people could adopt this simple principle of life and then we would all live in a much better and wholesome world. Have you given back?