One day I got a call from an old friend. He told me that he and his wife were treating us to a vacation out of town, and we could bring our children along! It was a gift for something we did for them some years back. Apparently, they hadn’t forgotten.
They took care of our plane tickets, hotel accommodations, restaurant reservations for all our meals, a van and driver to bring us around while we were on vacation. We had several itineraries/activities to choose from — so we could decide what we wanted to do from day to day. Was this couple super rich? No. But they knew how to be grateful.
Did we do something huge for them? For them, it was apparently huge because the gift they gave us was valuable and well-thought-of. It wasn’t an ordinary gift. But to us, the favor wasn’t huge. We did it without expecting anything in return. That’s why their thank you gift was an incredible surprise. Only God could’ve touched them to do this.
Only two of our grown kids could go with us because the other two had work — and we had a blast!
That couple, and a few other friends we have, have been teaching me over the years some priceless lessons about gratefulness — how we should always remember and show gratitude to those who God used to act as His arms and legs in our lives; the people He used, and continues to use, to bring us to the good place we’re in right now.
We are, sadly, a forgetful people. Because whether we realize it or not, we are selfish. Once we get what we want, we often forget who helped us get it. We discard people we don’t need anymore. We are quick to claim credit for what we think we’ve accomplished — forgetting who laid the groundwork, who did the initial grunt work, who started the whole thing in the first place, who helped us get the position or the business we’re in now.
Are you one of these people? Have you already forgotten those who helped you get to where you are now?
I remember an old colleague who was barely scraping by when he started his business. A handful of his friends helped him grow his business. They weren’t his partners. They had nothing to gain from helping him. They just helped him because he was their friend.
Years later, because of the help and connections of his friends, this man’s business boomed. His puny startup became a giant success. You know what they say — in many businesses, it’s location, location, location.
In business and the corporate ladder, it’s connections, connections, connections.
Sadly, this man not only forgot about his friends who helped him, but he also did the unspeakable thing. He discarded them. One by one. Obviously because he didn’t need them anymore. It was shocking to witness this. And I have a very, very bad feeling about how his story is going to end.
Success (or even just a hint of it) has a way of messing up our brains. Many of us tend to think we’re invincible, once we let success go to our heads. What we often forget is that the people who helped us on our the way up might be the very people who can save us on our way down.
My mom taught me, early in life, that gratitude is best expressed when we give back, even if we’re not expected to.
So she’d visit and bring gifts, send gifts, finance something, spend for a child’s education or wedding (she did this for one of our helpers who served her well), pay for someone’s hospitalization, introduce a friend to a good business connection, etc. She did these things for people who helped her in the past.
Till her last day on earth, God made sure that my mom lived a very, very comfortable life, and lacked for nothing. In her retirement years, she traveled abroad a lot, spent many vacations with her relatives, and had a lively, happy social life with her circle of friends in church.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the people she helped went out of their way to give back to her, somehow. It’s not karma. It’s a Christian thing — we always reap what we sow.