“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
Charitable is not the first word I would use to describe myself. In fact, its probably not even in the top 5. Top 10? And that’s a little scary. I so badly want to be kind, and helpful, and put others first, and never think a bad thing about anyone else. But I’m not perfect, or even very good at it.
It has only been in the past year or so that I’ve decided to try to increase my Charity. And I’ve learned a few specific lessons:
- Wanting it is the perfect place to start.
No one needs goals they can never reach. If I had decided one day that I would be the most charitable person I know, I would have failed. Or, at the very least, the changes wouldn’t have stuck. But, when my goal is to be kinder in my thoughts, and then to offer service more regularly, and to do so without being bitter, and then to serve without being asked… Making goals that are not only movement in the right direction, but actually achievable, has allowed me to make measurable improvements.
- Offer specific, realistic service.
“Let me know what I can do!” is a favorite phrase of the well-meaning, myself included. But when is the last time someone, even someone close to you, said “let me know what I can do to help!” and you called them to ask for a meal? or help with your homework? or a ride to the grocery store? Recently a friend of mine was taking care of her very sick family when I reached out and offered to help. I said “I can fold laundry and make dinner. Can I do either of those for you?” She was gracious enough to accept my service and I dropped off a simple dinner for them that night. Would “let me know” have had the same response? I don’t know, but I do know that I was able to serve a family because I offered specific, realistic help.
- Making time for others creates more time for your to-do’s.
During mid-terms this semester a friend of mine sent me a text asking for help with a class. I had several projects and an exam I was prepping for, and I thought to myself “I do not have time for this.” But this girl is one of the sweetest on the planet and would sacrifice so much to help me in any situation. So I said I would help. And let me tell you, an hour and a half with this girl lifted my spirits, got her more ready for her exam, and was in no way an inconvenience. Right before she came over, the final issues with one of my projects were resolved, solutions to the problems with other projects were more clear, and I was better able to focus.
I know that God helps us when we set realistic goals, reach out, and help others. The purpose of this life is to forge meaningful relationships with our Savior and the rest of God’s children, and where I am certainly not perfect, Charity is slowly becoming one of my more prominent personal traits.