by Jane Jackson, LPC-Intern
My husband’s mother recently moved in to our house. She has ALS. We now help her with routine daily actions that you and I carryout without conscious consideration. While it’s very hard to watch her surrender her independence, it can be considered an opportunity to return the favor by doing for her what now she cannot. She cared for my husband when he was a baby; we get to care for her now. I see it this way, maybe because my dad cared for his mother in her final days, and then did it again a decade later for my mother, his wife, as she finished her race; or perhaps it was that I read Reggie Anderson’s book, Appointments with Heaven, and saw the privilege it is to see patients at the end of their lives cross over to claim their heavenly citizenship. What an opportunity, right? To get to do and see what others typically don’t.
What’s on your list to give back? Would you consider it fulfilling to take a gift you’ve received and pass it on to another? Can you think of 3 things that someone else did for you that you’d like to do for someone else? Maybe even giving back to the one who did for you, but it doesn’t have to be. It feels good when we do for others, when we volunteer and serve.
According to research, there are improvements in self-esteem and a greater sense of personal empowerment including better health for those who think like givers. Doing for others may stimulate endorphins, which is linked to improved nervous and immune system functions. Research shows that those who volunteer, offering emotional support - even just practical help for friends - have a lower risk of dying over a five-year period over those who don’t. These days social connections are less eye to eye, and more screen to screen, myopia (nearsightedness) is on the rise in this country because kids are seeing everything without looking farther than a few inches from their face. Maybe helping a younger generation with underdeveloped social skills would be a giving opportunity for you.
Make a list that makes you thankful for what you’ve been given, and start looking for opportunities to give it back.