There's the old chestnut, 'Tis better to give than to receive,' but I think a more apt version is that it's easier to give than to receive.
I've learned so many new things, and new things about myself, while planning the big fundraiser. One of those is that I never realized how difficult it would be to receive things. Things for which I'm not paying.
I've said before that asking for monetary donations makes my hiney cringe, but throughout the course of our fundraiser planning, I've had to ask for donations of goods, services and time from a variety of people.
It's weird experience. For example, when I found out a local printing company would print 50 posters for us for free, there was a wave of elation first. Yay! YAY! And it was swiftly followed by a wave of guiltiness. Unworthiness. Who am I to ask people to part with their time or their goods for something that I want?
And while of course it's for a good cause, it still amazes me how generous people can be. Why is this? The world is so full of good things and good people; it shouldn't surprise me every time that these good people are willing to help when asked.
I help teach preschoolers at my church on Wednesday nights, and our Bible verse last night was 2 Corinthians 9:7, part of which says "God loves a cheerful giver." It's a popular verse somebody probably taught me in the same Wednesday night preschool class about 25 years ago, but it's particularly relevant to me right now. I'm surrounded by cheerful givers, from my friends who are generous with their talents, to people who spend time collecting and moving boxes of books, to the marketing director of the local grocery store that's donating free-trade coffee, hot tea and bottles of water for 250 people.
I'm not saying we haven't been turned down (a t-shirt place turned down my friend yesterday when she was asking about shirts for our event) but overall, I'm surrounded by cheerful givers. It makes me want to be a more cheerful giver. I've helped with plenty of philanthropies in the past, but I'm sorry to admit it wasn't always with cheerfulness. Maybe I cared about the cause, but I wasn't necessarily cheerful about giving my time or whatever else that cost me something.
There are so many needs out there, so many sick and hurting people that need help, it can seem overwhelming to hear or think about. And you end up hardening to it a little, which I guess is partly natural because if you had to think about all of the sadness in the world all the time, you'd probably never get out of bed.
But we do what we can, and if we're doing it right, we're cheerful about it and it's a huge blessing to us to be able to give to other people. And it comes full-circle at some point because we will all - at some time or another - be the ones receiving the blessings rather than the ones giving them. I think maybe the key is to be a cheerful receiver also. Because as much as I'm blessed by people giving to me cheerfully, I think I can be a blessing by receiving cheerfully as well.