I’ve been thinking about the word a lot lately. Why do we do nice things for others? And why do they do them for us? What is it about humans that drive us towards these actions?
I think the answer is both simple and not so simple. Sometimes, we do nice things for others because we are reciprocating deeds that have been done for us. On the other hand, sometimes others feel the desire to do something that is a benefit for us without thinking about their own personal gain. Why? Is it because of something we said? Did we somehow make their day brighter and not even know it?
Or more likely, is it because they really don’t want anything in return? Maybe that is just part of who they are. Working in a Church office, I see folks come in and out on a regular basis. Usually, the scenario is that they have come for a reason, and I help them with whatever it is they need. Often times, after the business part of the discussion is over, we chat for a few minutes about any number of things: the weather, their vacation, their families, and then they ask about me. I then may tell them a funny story, or about something exciting, and the conversation ends.
Over time, relationships form and build. We get to know one another, and this makes it easier for me to anticipate what their needs are. And then, suddenly one day, I find that someone has done something for me. Just because. They brought a coffee—which for me is usually met with a “yay!” They made a card, sent a nice e-mail, and the list continues.
All of these small actions add up, and they become part of a bigger picture. For some, it is not always easy to become open with others. It takes time to create an atmosphere where they feel at ease. However, once that happens, it leads to a great connection and conversation flows freely.
So then, how do I show gratitude? How can I show someone how much I appreciate what they have done for me? Is it enough to just say thank you? Is it enough to only reciprocate? Have I done my part in communicating this clearly?
I hope so. I hope that somehow they do know that I am grateful, not just for a material item, but for allowing me to be part of their lives in whatever way that they feel most comfortable. It is a wonderful thing to be part of something so special!