Every year during the High Holidays, like most Jews, I make a mental checklist of the events of the past year. I think about the things for which I’m most proud but I also think about the things for which I need to ask for forgiveness. I always hope that the scales will be tipped towards the positive.
As I make my checklist, I try not to lose sight of the simple meaning of Yom Kippur – Atonement and Forgiveness. Atonement can only come when we implement change; forgiveness comes when we have broken with the less than desirable traits of which we need to rid ourselves.
This year, in addition to thoughts of atonement and forgiveness, Rabbi Belgrad asked me to think about and share my thoughts on the personal gifts that I might offer to God.
The task seemed daunting. I wondered what, if anything, I have to offer to God.
I had to force myself to complete this challenging task. When Rabbi Belgrad asks you to do something, you do it, right? After all, you can’t say no to a rabbi, can you? Isn’t that kind of like saying no to God?
The more I thought about what I might offer God, the more my thoughts circled back to me. How could I possibly talk about my personal gifts without sounding boastful? Who am I to think that I have anything to offer God? What could I offer that would please God? What could God possibly need from little ole me?
Thinking about these things started to feel like my giving my husband yet another tie for Father’s Day…. I’m sure I could offer something useful to God but I wasn’t so sure that I could offer anything special or unique.
A possibility occurred to me – when I give of my time or share my talents with those in need, am I also offering them to God?
Then it hit me – and I apologize if this sounds like a beauty pageant cliché – but I decided that I would like to offer God my service to help “fix” the world.
We are bombarded with news of the world’s problems – the economy, war, famine, the environment.
Many of us are motivated to do something but we see things globally and expect someone else to fix the world’s problems. No, we expect God to repair the world’s problems all by herself.
I recognize the enormity of the task and think it’s only fair that I pitch in. Actually, I think of it as my duty.
Here are a few of the gifts that I bring to the table.
God, I offer you my giving spirit.
I’m very involved in the community and various nonprofit organizations –
I’ve been a volunteer and have chaired several committees in my children’s school district since we moved to Buffalo Grove. I’m still involved with some of these organizations, even though both of my children have graduated high school and are now in college.
I have helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for diabetes research for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I just wrapped up my 13th year as the chair of the Ron Santo Walk for a Cure.
I’ve served on a temple board and on various committees; I have helped plan and successfully run events. I have rallied the support of our business community and garnered product donations for charity auctions. I’ve walked and run for various cures, painted schools on the south side of Chicago, tutored under-privileged children and worked in food pantries and homeless shelters.
Surely God might find a need for my giving spirit as we all work to repair the world.
The skills I’ve acquired through this giving spirit will certainly help – fundraising, diplomacy, conflict resolution and social action, to name a few.
Next, God, I offer you my gift of loyalty.
I am a faithful wife and devoted mother. I’m a dependable daughter, sister, friend, employee and team member. When put in a position of trust, have no fear – always know you’ll be in good hands. My word is my bond. ‘Nuf said.
Lastly, God, I offer you my gift of patience.
I’ve learned to appreciate each precious moment that God has given me and not try to rush to the next one – whether I’m waiting for a long train, sitting in traffic or simply waiting while a new cashier rings out a customer with a stack of expired coupons.
I hope that God will accept my meager gifts.
Today, one person, offering her giving spirit, her loyalty and patience – doing one good deed – can change the entire world: a world where goodness and kindness reign; a world where Godliness is recognized.