Appreciation – A Michigan Survival Guide Installment

I have done everything I could do to make sure the temporary setbacks certain friends or family members have had were as painless as possible.  I have also been on the other side of the fence with my own needs being answered by those who cared. My mother, (god bless her) had always been there for myself and siblings when the chips were down and fortune mis-stepped.  In some ways not financially, but in many other ways even more valuable, with her time.

One of the lessons received in the midst of moving out and starting my own family, was about appreciation. While my mother genuinely wanted to help and enjoyed providing assistance with a household article, or even taking the kids while my wife and I worked, she wanted us to appreciate WHAT she was doing, or giving. She didn’t demand that we prostrate ourselves in her presence or even thank her endlessly.  What she really wanted, and what motivated her to help even more was a true understanding taken from her perspective.

Mom’s (and my fathers as well most certainly) biggest disappointments came from the lack of consideration shown by action immediately preceding her assistance. Imagine making a temporary loan to someone so their lights aren’t shut off, then before you are paid back they are showing off to you (with beaming pride) a brand new new color TV.  Though this is hardly an exact example of what my mother may have seen, it demonstrates what she and my father had to endure with the rather large collection of children she has seen eventually mature.

Some folks will not object however.  They will simply sour to helping in the future.  To be taken advantage of in such a way can be hurtful, as it offers little consideration to the value of time and energy that was provided through love and caring for the person or persons being helped.

I have been fortunate enough to have discovered that there is room for compassion amidst the successes and failures I have personally endured. Further, I have felt fortunate to be able to help those who I care for, all the while paying close attention to how they repay me.  That repayment now becomes more important in the way that they use the assistance, and not in how soon I am compensated for that help.  In other words, it grieves me more to see opportunity squandered, when I know it is unnecessary. This is the lesson I learned from my mother.

Times are tough, and the ratio of those needing assistance to those providing it is getting higher. If you need and recieve help, even if you aren’t asking for it, it is critical you assume the perspective of the giver.  As long as the gift of time, money, or other assistance is seen as being truly appreciated without wasting its benefits those who bestow that help will ALWAYS be more willing to step forward and provide when it is time to do so.  Even more often, it may help you avoid the pitfalls which put you into that needy place.