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“I’ve Always Loved Sharing”

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I have always loved giving. Some of my earliest memories are of giving: Picking flowers, drawing pictures, wrapping up used toys and giving them to family and friends. Whether to celebrate a special occasion or just because I felt a little nudge from the Holy Spirit, God has wired me love and show His love and compassion through physical gifts, but also through gifts of words and affirmations.   

My generosity journey hit overdrive about 8 years ago when I started working professionally in the generosity space. I encountered stories of people living radically generous lives and heard teaching that awakened my spirit to what idols were blocking my giving—aimless spending, believing I earned what I have, and a dependence on lifestyle to name a few. The past few years have taken my family on a journey through random acts of kindness, spontaneous generosity, choosing ministries, and seeking to love each other generously with our actions, words, and time.   

This spring I participated in a course on happiness from Yale. What I learned was surprising: the factors we usually assume lead to happiness in fact do not. Instead, they lead to anxiety, fear, and worry. Anxiety and worry contribute to 80% of challenging illnesses and, on average, 48% of our thoughts are distractions pulling us away from being present. Through exercises and by shifting perspectives, we can focus on the generosity of God on display all around us.   

During a time of reflection last week, God challenged me to tell stories of random acts of generosity and kindness that impact my life and the lives of those around me. This is the first of a series of those stories.   

The Gift of Grubhub  

There are many things about sheltering in place that are strange, surreal, and complicated. I have officed from home for many years now and Zoom has been a daily norm since 2014, so not much changed in my world. But for some people on the team not being together in the office was an adjustment. COVID didn’t only change where we work, but it changed what we’re working on. In an organization where the product offering is in-person experiences there was a dash to shift to a virtual platform that meant lots of adjustments in an ever-changing landscape.   

I knew we needed an infusion of fun and began hosting a virtual happy hour once a week for casual connection. These 45 minutes have given space for shared struggles, processing difficult realities, sharing joy, and seeing God at work around us. One friend shared that COVID opened the door for her and her husband to share their faith with neighbors they never would have considered being so bold with in the past.  

Our weekly gathering filled my cup and I started asking God to give me an idea that would bless them unexpectedly. The answer came in one word: Grubhub!  

Immediately I hopped on their website and bought a bunch of $15 gift cards, typed a short gift message, and hit send. The responses made it apparent that the simple act of giving a meal, even virtually, communicates gratitude and appreciation.  

I look forward to the day I can travel again, see all these friends in person, and share a meal together, but until then I will keep my ears open to opportunities to send a meal to those I am grateful for. 

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About the Author

Mary Shaw

Mary serves as Women Doing Well’s Vice President, Experiences and Partnerships. She leads a team that creates transformational experiences and grows partnerships. Mary joined WDW in 2014 and has worked closely with city leaders to bring the Signature Event to their communities, using a proven model for creating a transformational one-day experience. Her passion for reaching women, growing their leadership and generosity has equipped her to serve volunteers as they engage and grow within Women Doing Well. Mary is a lifelong learner with experience in managing events, content and story development, volunteer care and systems implementation. She and her husband, Bryan, live in Chattanooga, Tennessee with their three children where they enjoy the beauty of God’s creation in the nature around them. Her two word purpose statement is ‘Providing Assurance.’

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