Kent Bush: It is easier to be thankful when you focus on giving
There have been years where Thanksgiving hit me at a bad time.
Work was tough, money was tight and I didn’t feel incredibly thankful. Luckily, my mom’s cooking is always good so that made hard times easier to stomach – so to speak.
But after a couple of trips to Ethiopia in 2011, I have had no trouble being thankful for what I have. On my worst day, life is pretty darn good when you see that bigger picture.
One of the things that makes Thanksgiving even better is when you focus as much on the end of the word as you do on the beginning.
Our family helps support another family there through www.leltfoundation.com and it has made giving much more fun than receiving. Seeing their daughter excel in school when she may not have been able to even afford school in the past is something that makes me truly thankful. Knowing that she is being equipped to break the bonds of generational abject poverty makes me want to help more.
But the program that makes this possible in the country also makes microloans to mothers in the Lelt Foundation’s program after they complete a business education course. Some of the women weren’t able to complete school when they were young and have actually learned to read and write through the program. Now they are taking small loans to start businesses of their own which only serves to further help their families make ends meet.
But the most incredible thing that giving to this program has taught me is how generous we fail to be.
Every dollar that gets paid back from those microloans goes back into the program and another woman benefits from the program. The cascading effect is incredible.
People who would be the poorest of the poor here reach out to each other, help each other and succeed together in one of the most economically depressed areas in Addis Ababa.
When you see people whose home only has three walls reaching out to help others who are “in need” it really puts those “bad years” in perspective.
Thanks to those trips in 2011, I no longer have to fake it when I say, “Things could be worse.” I know it is true.
Those trips also flipped a switch inside me that helped me see and understand the benefits of giving and how much richer you are when you help others with whatever resources you have.
But you don’t have to go to Africa to find a need to fill. There are people all around us who need help every day.
On this Thanksgiving Day, take stock of your blessings and be thankful. But when you are finished counting, turn that appreciation into action and be a blessing to someone else.
Then you will have a reason to be truly thankful.
Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.