I don’t have to but… This is how I love.

I am a blogger. I write online. I don’t have to but I do it anyway. I am often asked why I do it and if there is really any benefit to writing online – often for free.

Disclaimer: This is an opinion post. You may not agree with me but I hope it offers motivation for volunteering.

In 11th grade, my parents sent me to India. On the very first day of college, I was told that if I joined the National Cadet Corps or the National Social Service, I’d get extra credits at the end of the year. These points would add up and help me in getting a better seat at University.

I really liked that idea. So, I came home that day and told my father what I had learnt.

‘It is really interesting. I have to just show up for at least 1 class each term and I’d qualify for that credit.’ I said over dinner that night.

My father replied, ‘Yes. But it is just not that credit at school that you’re earning. You will have gained a skill; may be even networked with new people, you may have changed a life or two and some day this experience will help you in your life. Also this will be counted in your deeds as Sadaqa.’

I don’t know if my father remembers our conversation from those years ago, but that started my adventure with volunteering. Social Service one year, Cadet corps the next, writing for the college paper, a position at the Student’s committee, Department reporter, editor, babysitting little cousins, talking sense into troublesome teens, saving stray dogs, showing up to help new mothers in our family. You know what…? It is not that difficult to find opportunities to help, when you are looking out for them.

I don’t have to do it but I do it anyway.

As a practicing Muslim, there is another reason that motivates me- Sadaqa.

‘Sadaqa’ literally means ‘righteousness’ and refers to the voluntary giving of alms or charity. But in Islamic terminology; Sadaqah has been defined as an act of “Giving something to somebody without seeking a substitute in return and with the intention of pleasing Allah.”

Just as we feed our bodies with food. Our souls need some nourishment too. Being thankful, acknowledging our blessings and then understanding that our every action is a responsibility with which we serve either ourselves or others, is just a little way in which we can keep that soul fresh. Don’t you agree?

In 2003, when I started to blog, there was a very personal reason to it. I was looking for people like me. Displaced expat kids. I was lonely, lost and needed a better way to connect with MY people. Blogging was like present day Social Media for me.

In 2006, when I moved to Saudi Arabia, I found myself lonely and sad again. This time I was away from my family. I started blogging to stay connected with my family members and friends. Then I started writing about my different struggles. After that came the need to find crocheters and crafty people – someone who would share my passion.

Before I knew it, I had made a bunch of virtual friends who knew exactly what I was talking about. They related to my stories. They found comfort in knowing that there were others like them. There were women who knew exactly what the whole big deal was about getting the Jon Yusuf bookmark right! There were people who were looking for DMC yarn in Jeddah and happy to find me!

I didn’t see this when I wrote those blog posts. I didn’t think about how someone in some little town in Australia would learn a quicker way to make yarn out of grocery bags and use it to make a few blankets for homeless people in her city. When she made that blanket and donated it, I think through her I paid a little Sadaqah for that little skill that God taught me.

I didn’t see it then. I didn’t even realize it but I wasn’t just writing. I was creating communities of people who shared a common passion or interest. I didn’t see it then. I didn’t even realize it but my sharing my journey was my sadaqah for the talents and skills that God had given me.

When a mother overwhelmed with home and little babies, came searching for a solution to ‘work less and cook more’, she found my fridge and pantry organization list helpful. I think I blessed my home through her. She implemented my tricks in her home. I got a little peace in my heart knowing that somehow I was helping someone although I was JUST a stay at home mother.

I don’t have to do it but I do it anyway.

Love has many languages and this is just the way I am showing my love.

This is how I show love and gratitude to the people and things around me. Your language may be different. Maybe you have found some other way… may be you haven’t. Soon you will, God Willing.

Love is something that just increases the more you share. It spreads…

You are a citizen of the country. When you show love by respecting the laws and helping your fellow citizens, you take upon it as your responsibility to protect your country and it’s resources. You don’t have to do it. There are people getting paid to clean, protect and serve your country but you can do something out of the way out of your own free will. You can do it expecting nothing in return or you can do it expecting something in return. You have the choice. The power to choose is in your hands. There is no right thing and there is no wrong thing.

You are a member of society. Maybe you feel accepted, loved and appreciated. May be you just have some sense of safety and belonging by being part of that society. Possibly, you’re not happy and feel they’re not nice to you at all. I can choose to change my situation. I have the power to change that thinking. It’s my choice. I don’t have to do anything about it or I can do my part by loving on them.

You are a member of a family. Your husband provides for you or may be you’re the wife who cooks and cleans and takes care of the children or may be none of that… If she just smiles at you when you get home, you have someone to hold and hug. Someone to talk to. You can choose to make her happy… out of nowhere. Just for being her. Just for being there. Just for choosing you. Or none of that… you choose to do something because that is what waters your soul.

You have parents who care about what you do in your life. You many not necessarily accept their view on things but you have someone in your life who cares about you. You can choose not to do anything about it or you can choose to appreciate and be thankful that there is someone.

You have aunts and uncles who are just there as your family. They are a little bit more than your friend and a little less than your immediate family but they’re there. May be some of them are just too much to handle… some are sweet… some are down right sour.

You have in laws who brought up your spouse and may be shaped them into what they are. You can do nothing about it or you can…

I have the talent to write, crochet, draw, teach and understand people… I have the patience to stay calm in a stressful situation. It’s God’s gifts to me. I can choose to do nothing with them or I can bring more abundance in my life by sharing my talents with others. I can water my soul, keep it fresh that way. That’s the way I like it…

When you shake a full glass, it will spill its content.

If it has water, it spills water.

If it has milk, it spills milk

If it has sand, it spills sand.

If I have love in me and you bump into me, I’ll spill some love onto you.

If I have some wisdom, that’s what you’ll get.

If I have lots of money, that’s what I’ll give you.

If I’m full of anger and hurt, that’s what I’ll spill.

Something for thought: what are you full of? What do you choose to spill? How do you love?

Photo by Meghan Schiereck on Unsplash

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