Room to Give More – Finding New Friends, Inspiring Others

By Amy Sparkman

I have a friend whose life is full-to-overflowing, yet she always has room in it to do—that is, to give, more. Over the years, I've wondered why she doesn't say "No" more often – why she feels so compelled to accept another responsibility or to accommodate someone's schedule, even to make an offer of her time or help when her days are full already. For all my wondering, I've also marveled at her life – at the variety of activities she's engaged in, at the richness of her experience, at her ability to be flexible and open-minded, and, most of all, at her tireless expressions of selfless love. Not long ago, she told me this story…

My friend's next-door neighbors have five daughters between 11 and almost 2. These girls personify energy and creativity, and they're delightfully individual. One day, their mom asked my friend for a recommendation of a piano teacher, knowing that my friend's children took lessons. Soon, the shyest of the daughters started piano lessons, but she had no way to practice.

My friend quickly realized this and promptly offered practice time on her own piano. It was decided that the girl would come over for 20 minutes before school. And so, my friend opened her door at 7:45 a.m. every school day and then closed the door to her bedroom while this timid child plinked her way through the beginning stage of note-learning and playing the likes of "Mary had a little lamb" and "Hot Cross Buns."

A few weeks into this routine, my friend decided to sit down quietly beside the child and gently count the beat to the songs. One morning of sitting together led to the next and the next. It's been four months since then, and as my friend tells it, this young girl now greets her with a big smile, and the two of them work together on the piano, learning and laughing together. The child is delighted, the piano teacher is thrilled, and my friend has gained a new friend as well as an unexpected way to express her own passion for music.

Over the years of knowing this friend, I've come to realize that her life points to a crucial spiritual lesson—that of the ceaseless interplay between Soul-inspired giving and receiving. When we're open to listening for God's directive, each day is an adventure in following—in being willing to go wherever and to do whatever God inspires. And when God is leading the way, opening the door of opportunity with every step, who would dream of saying, "No, thank you"? I doubt my friend realizes how much she's taught me, or how much of a difference she's making. She's just doing what comes naturally—as it does to all of us.