Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.

Lao Tzu

Our volunteers at Bread for the Journey know that living up to our Vision to Nurture the Seed of Generosity in Every Human Heart is an inside job. As we nurture the seed of generosity in our heart, our energy ripples out and touches others. Seen or unseen, it is felt by the people in our lives. And the way it feels is—well, it feels like love.

Our volunteers raise a little money in their community and give it away in as uncomplicated a way as possible. Free of restrictions and with very little paperwork, if any.

I remember listening to a woman named Valerie Denghel speak at an event. Our chapter in Kalamazoo, Michigan had given her a grant to help kids living in poverty get new shoes for their first day of school. She took the microphone and said, “I was invited to dinner by the Bread for the Journey volunteers. We shared a meal and had a great conversation. When the meal was over and I was getting ready to leave, I said, ‘I had a great time. Thanks so much. What’s next? How do I apply for a grant?

“Well, they told me I had just applied! The next day they called and said I had won the grant. That kind of ease and trust left such an impression on me that I try to be like that myself and with my organization. I want to trust and love that way.”

To trust someone enough to give them money, or anything of value, we have to put aside our doubts and all the busyness going on in our head. Get this: the act of generosity has the potential to move the needle inside the heart of the giver. All the stuff going on in our head is about the receiver. We worry that the homeless person will spend our dollar on liquor. We wonder if the pregnant teen is worthy of our gift.  We need studies to prove what we already know. Stop.

Try encouragement. Give the money away with love and belief in who you’re giving to. See their strengths. See their potential. Bless the money. This may seem naïve to you, but I promise that if you continue to place your focus on nurturing the seed of generosity in your heart, and practice giving freely, a change will occur inside of you. You will break through a barrier that keeps you separate from those receiving your gift. You will be free from shackles you didn’t even know were binding you.

This is inner work, hard work. And the thing that motivates us to do that work is our desire to be generous. To grow our generous nature while diminishing our doubting mind is what I call “building our trust muscles.” And that is worthy work. It is the kind of work that, if done throughout a life, makes us Generous of Spirit. And it has a contagious nature. Like Valerie Denghel, people want to be like this, want to be around people like this. People want to emulate it. It is magnetic because we’re talking about LOVE.

And it makes the person on the receiving end of our love, trust and generosity stand a little bit taller. They feel a sense of belonging, of being loved and appreciated for who they are and what they bring to the table. Most of the time they work harder to live up to that trust. And on a good day, they pay it forward.

All of our work at Bread for the Journey can be summed up in this story. Love is the highest force in the world. Generosity is the way we show our love. Increasing our trust muscles helps us be more easily generous—with our time, attention, money, care, words, everything. And all actions born from this spread like wildfire.

In the end, it all comes back to an age old truism I learned as a kid—If it is to be, it begins with me. C’mon, let’s change the world together. With Love.

Love, Marianna