The Greater Gift Came Later

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THE GREATER GIFT CAME LATER

Donna Miller

My husband was seriously injured at work in August 2002. He was unable to work for about six months. Much of his income is from overtime and his disability pay did not equal even 25 percent of the income we count on. We have five children and this was a massive loss of income for our family. It became necessary for me to work a second full-time job.

Most days I went to my teaching job at 7:00 a.m., went to my second job as a cashier at a local retail store at 4:00 p.m., and dragged myself home around midnight, knowing I had to do the same thing the next day. I still had to do lesson planning and somehow squeeze in family time. I worked seven days a week, and was rarely home. My youngest child, seven years old at the time, missed me so much that he started carrying a picture of me to school in his pocket.

Until then, I’d been very active in my church. But I became too busy for most of my church life and missed many meetings. Word spread about our situation, and I received many calls with words of encouragement and emotional support from fellow church members.

On New Year’s Eve I was working at the store. When I took a break, I saw my husband walking toward me with an odd look on his face. I asked what was wrong. He handed me an envelope, saying “I found this in our mailbox.” The envelope was fully addressed but there was no stamp or return address. Inside was a note: “From our family to yours, we share with you our good fortune and pray for your family’s health and financial wellbeing in the coming year.” Then my husband handed me another sheet of paper, folded in half. I unfolded the paper to see 10 crisp, brand-new 100-dollar bills.

To say the least, I was shocked, and also very humbled. Who cared so much about us they would give us a thousand dollars? Our families live 1,300 miles away so I knew it wasn’t a relative. But who?  For a while I wondered who gave us that amazing gift. My curiosity almost became an obsession. Then one day I realized we’re not supposed to know. The giver — or givers — purposely didn’t tell us. It was a true act of selfless giving with no chance of public acknowledgment.

That note is now laminated and framed. I try to repeat that anonymous act of kindness and caring as often as possible, even if on a smaller scale. Although I cannot afford to give someone that much money, I’ve
often given someone in need $20, $50, or $100. We received the cash gift when we needed money badly, but the greater gift came later. We saw the true meaning of selfless giving, and have made a point of doing the same ever since.

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