The Bright Side: Grateful for generosity
Published 6:49 am Tuesday, November 29, 2022
During this time of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of two core values that I hold very close to my heart and have been working on throughout this year: gratitude and generosity. What are you grateful for this year? It’s been a tough one on the majority of us, but I can think of many things I can thank God for. When was the last time you exhibited generosity? What caused you to be generous? What was the outcome?
I heard a story once about a couple named Benny and Nancy. They needed some roof work done and long story short, they hired the worst roofer ever. This roofer was a man named Valentine. He was an alcoholic, always falling asleep on the job. It took Valentine nine months and thousands of dollars more than originally quoted to complete the job. By the time he had finished the roof, Valentine was the one who owed money.
After confronting Valentine about practically ripping them off, Benny and Nancy learned that the old roofer had no money left. On top of that, his wife had walked out on him, his children refused to speak to him, he was now unemployed and had just been kicked out of the place he was staying. Valentine had nothing. Generously, the couple offered for Valentine to stay in the trailer on their farm and help with little odds and ends-type jobs that needed done daily. At the very least, they would get some work out of him for what they had paid.
Valentine was not a good worker, but he tried. Benny and Nancy forgave Valentine over time and the old man recognized this forgiveness. He came to admire the couple for their strength, generosity and their relationship with God. He saw how they lived every day for Christ, and had a change of heart. Believe it or not, Valentine began to turn his life around, and live each day for Christ as well.
After some time, Benny became severely ill. What started with an infection of a bone in his foot turned into complete kidney failure from antibiotic side effects. Benny lost his sight and his mobility. He declined at a rapid rate, almost giving up the program he was in to become a deacon.
Valentine stepped in as Benny’s full-time, live-in caregiver. He cleaned, cooked and was strong enough to lift Benny in and out of his wheelchair. After so many months and this incredibly gracious act of selflessness, Nancy and Benny told Valentine he had more than paid off his debt to them and he was free to go and start his life over. But Valentine refused to leave, explaining that the couple was now his family and he wanted to stay and help as much as he could.
One day, Valentine collapsed out in the fields. By the time Benny and Nancy got him to the hospital, he had suffered a massive stroke and passed away a few days later. Valentine had always wanted to give Benny his kidney, but his body was wrecked and severely suffered from his alcoholism. Just a couple of hours after Valentine passed, the doctors came to the couple and shockingly explained the state of Valentine’s organs: they were in great condition! Not only were they in good shape, they were a perfect match for Benny. And right then and there, they prepped Benny for surgery.
Benny recovered miraculously. He gained his sight and mobility back and was ordained a deacon a short time after the surgery. The rest is history.
This is a true story, and the first time I heard it I cried. My takeaway? God works through us when we are generous, regardless of whether or not the recipient may seem deserving of our generosity. You never know whose day you may make. But the more we freely give of our time, help and kindness, the more rewarding the end result will be.
This year, I was sent books from a dear friend and author who has not only brought me closer to Christ, but has impacted my mother in such a way that I now see joy in her heart every day that I speak with her over the phone. I was given a place to stay at no cost by a couple who I consider the likeness of a grandfather and grandmother to me now. My mentor and one of my best friends has gifted me her time, love, advice and her fantastic listening ears more times than I can count. And a class, might I add, for free, knowing that times are tough for us right now.
I recognize that my parents and my sister have all chipped in on more than one occasion to help in tight times. Their love and support weighs much more than funds, but their generosity in all areas is beyond measure and well noted. My fiancé has generously picked up flowers at the store for me multiple times this year so I can make gifts for others from them. But the free time he has willingly given up to help me with my careers may be the most impactful.
There have been several people who have trusted their stories with me this year. And I am grateful for all of these things, and so much more. Generosity has truly changed my life, and I have made it my goal to remember all that has been done for me and do the same for others.
I challenge you this holiday season to be generous, not just with money, but with time, with resources, and with your love. I challenge you to talk of your gratitude, and make it a point to thank those who have done something for you, no matter how big or small. This is the season of giving, so give it your all. You might just change a life.
Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.