It's December. Which means the malls are extra crowded, the roads seem more congested, and the freezing temperatures have everyone a little more on edge. The malls are busy and bustling, but not all Calgarians are a part of this busyness. In Calgary on any given night, over 3500 people are homeless, on any given night 160 families sleep in Calgary shelters and each month 60,000 Albertans rely on food banks and 43% of them are children.
Also, watching the news can make us think that there isn’t much good in the world anymore. The needs are pressing and seem to surround us. We may want to help, want to participate, want to give but just don't know how. We may wonder what our place is in this messy world?
Let's choose to live fully wherever we are. Let's not be so overwhelmed by the needs of the world that we forget there is good to be found. We have a choice to make people feel unloved, unwanted and unwelcome or to choose to make the world a better place this season! Here are five suggestions how you can be an encouragement this month:
1. Food is a love language. It brings people together, especially around the holidays. Bring someone a meal or holiday baking or invite someone over to your home. Think of those around you that would appreciate some extra cheer. Perhaps it’s a widower, a neighbor, a senior or a young mother.
2. Love people in our city by giving the gift of time to organizations that are blessing their clients over the Christmas season. Serve a meal or help with a Christmas party. Giving a financial gift or donation of much-needed items is also a way to serve and be a part of our city.
3. Lend a helping hand by shoveling a neighbor's sidewalk or driveway. Help jump their car battery. Scrape their car off before they leave for work. Or watch their house or their pets while they are on holidays.
4. Instead of calling people, pay them a visit to say hello. With Facebook and the Internet, people don’t sit down and visit as much as they used to. It’s a great way to get to know people and their stories and to find real, practical ways to get involved in their lives. Bless someone this season by dropping by and wishing someone a Merry Christmas in person.
5. Our clients at the center come from many different religions, cultures, and walks of life. Calgary is a multi-cultural and diverse city. Being a foreigner in a new city comes with a unique set of challenges. I’d challenge you to share baking, share space, share time or share even a smile with someone who is different than you.
Being generous can be challenging. Interacting with people can be awkward. Sharing space can be intimidating. Fear of doing these things can paralyze us into doing nothing. Choose to bring good into the world by putting aside your feelings of discomfort or nervousness. Warm your own heart by bringing joy to someone else this Christmas. Don't let fear of being uncomfortable paralyze you.