People always tell me that I am too nice...however, I really don't think that I am.
There are many times a week when I think I've said something out-of-line or rude, and I'll apologize for being so, and the other person will look at me, completely confused, and ask what exactly I said that was so nasty. People tell me that I couldn't be a bitch if I tried. (I really don't think that's true. I know I have an evil streak...we all do!)
Me: I am so sorry I snapped at you before!
Other Person: When did you snap at me before?
I often take in strays...people who start confiding in me all their problems, and I have never once thought to say, "Please leave me alone. I hardly know you." Because I would feel bad doing that...because maybe I really AM too nice...and then I'll start obsessing, "What is the point of being too nice if you're not using your niceness to truly better the world?"
There are these people that collect for the homeless on just about every street corner in midtown Manhattan. Lately, I've been walking around them because I don't like them calling me out. ("You! In the red coat! People are going to bed starving! Donate what you can!") Maybe I should throw some coins in every time I walk by...but I don't!
If I really was too nice, I probably would be doing that.
Every time I walked by a table.
(Can I be honest? I usually DO give to the Salvation Army whenever I pass them. Is that wrong? Is it because I usually get overcome by the holiday spirit...and they're always ringing bells...)
Now, one thing I will never grow immune to...no matter how many years I spend in New York City...is seeing homeless people living on the sidewalk. I have this memory of Christmastime when I was a kid, and I was bouncing along and in a lovely mood, and then I saw a woman in the street, hugging herself and shivering. That image stuck with me forever.
And, yet, what am I doing for these people? I never give money to homeless people. I'm a 5'0 female walking by myself...perhaps I honestly don't feel safe whipping out my wallet and handing-out money. Or maybe it's something else. Maybe, deep down, I just feel like the problem is so great that me giving a dollar to a person a day won't make much of a difference.
I became a donor for Saint Jude's Hospital a few years ago. (Mainly because I got to the point where I couldn't turn away from those infomercials. They are truly heartbreaking.) I give what I can every month...and every month, I get a thank-you note from Marlo Thomas, along with a photo of another little Saint Jude's Hospital patient, and an envelope to send more money in. It makes me really upset! NOTHING makes me sadder than seeing or hearing about a sick child. But, seriously, Marlo Thomas! I'm giving you all I can afford!
I work with the youth group at my church. I used to think that I only liked little kids. I taught Sunday School for 1st and 2nd graders throughout high school, and I love that age. However, I've been with the youth group for a while, and these 5th-8th graders have really grown on me. Yes, I'm volunteering...yes, I'm doing something good...but then again...these are nice, well-adjusted children from good families who voluntarily hang out at church every week. If I really wanted to make a difference, wouldn't I be working with children who didn't have families who really needed some kind of a guiding light? Am I making any kind of an impact in these kids' lives?
Do they really even NEED me?
Am I doing ANY good?
However, we do service projects with these kids, and with every successful book drive or bake sale, I have come to realize maybe it's every bit as important to install in these kids that they really CAN make some kind of a difference and that they WON'T be twelve years old forever. Maybe that is my purpose right now, and my contribution for the time being.