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Moving and the Hardest Part of Generosity

My teammate Randy says, “The hardest part of generosity is receiving.”

He’s right. Giving something away can be much easier than accepting. Especially if it’s help. American culture idolizes picking yourself up by your bootstraps. Blazing a trail on your own. That’s partially why every time I’ve moved I’ve done it myself or paid professionals instead of asking for help. But this time was different.

In college, I can remember cramming my whole dorm room into my two-door Dodge Avenger as tight as possible to drive home for the summer. I had to use bags instead of boxes because everything had to be flexible enough to be smashed into tight corners. When I moved to California, all I had was a backpack and two duffel bags because that’s all I could carry. Then after I had accumulated some stuff, I strapped my box spring and mattress to the roof of my car and drove it up the 405 from Orange County to Burbank. I’ve never been more happy for stop-and-go traffic.

After getting married, we largely moved ourselves into our first apartment together, borrowing my father-in-law’s truck for some of it. In order to save on the delivery fee, we brought home our new couch only to discover that it wouldn’t go in the front door. These two Mormon kids had pitty on us and offered to help. But after we barely got it in through the second story window while balancing on the first-floor neighbors patio fence, they never made eye contact with us again.

Then we started making enough money to actually pay for movers. What a game changer! It was a small step forward to allowing other people to help, since it wasn’t presuming on someone else’s generosity. We hired them to do a job, and one that they were supposed to be really good at (which wasn’t always true).

So as we were preparing last month for our next home move, I started again into the same routine. Shopping prices online for the best deal to do it ourselves. But before I could order a truckload of boxes again, my wife asked me, “Why don’t we see if someone has extras we could borrow?” Sure why not.

Fast forward two days later, after reaching out to some team members and the NextDoor app, our townhome was packed! The dining room (it was more of a nook then a “room”) was bursting with flattened boxes and packing paper everywhere. I ended taking some of it I calculated we wouldn’t need to the recycling center early just to have enough room to function. People gave us more than we could handle.

Then came hiring movers. Either I have a horrible memory or the prices for movers went through the roof. It seemed like everyone was quoting us double what I remember from several years ago. Then right as I was ready to swallow the cost of hiring someone, a coworker stopped me. He said, “Hey, congratulations on the house. When you are ready to move, let me know what date to come help.” My first reaction was to play it off politely, but then someone else said the same thing too. Then another.

This caused some tension in me, because I really hate inconveniencing people. But were these people being serious? Did they actually want to help? Would I be slapping them in the face by not giving them a chance to help? Was I way overthinking this?

The answer is “Yes.” When you have good people in your life that love you, they often times are much more willing to look past an inconvenience to help you out. And that’s hard to stomach at times, even for people who love being on the giving end of it. Maybe they would enjoy generously giving their time and energy to move boxes. As my mom says, “Don’t yuck my yum.”

Of course my mind then raced to, “Well I gotta make sure it’s nothing major. That we are ready to go, not still packing, saran-wrap the heck out of everything we can. No appliances to move. Etc.” All in the name of making it easier for them to help. I’m so weird.

But people showed up for us.

A week before, we had parents helping us with packing boxes, fixing things, solving fancy water heaters, loaning us ladders, and wrangling kids for multiple days. Then those teammates and more actually showed up to load the Uhaul.

As it started filling up quickly, I started creating a mental list of all the things I’d need to get on the return trip. I would send everyone home after we got most of it the first trip, but I’d handle the leftovers myself. Then someone said, “I’ll get the table and chairs in my truck,” and another chimed in, “We can totally strap this twin mattress to the roof of my car.” And that’s what we did, caravanning the 7 mile trek with every vehicle packed with the stuff I was worried about being too much. In the end, an hour and a half later, they moved us faster and more efficiently than I’ve ever experienced, including using the professionals.

So at the end of the move, a drink in one hand and a slice of Papa Johns in the other (still slightly mad that I couldn’t procure better pizza from Jet’s) and surrounded by these people that helped us… I felt blessed. Abundantly. By so many people. Which is sometimes harder to swallow than just doing it yourself.

THE HARDEST PART OF GENEROSITY

My teammate Randy says, “The hardest part of generosity is receiving.”

He’s right. Giving something away can be much easier than accepting. Especially if it’s help. American culture idolizes picking yourself up by your bootstraps. Blazing a trail on your own. That’s partially why every time I’ve moved I’ve done it myself or paid professionals instead of asking for help. But this time was different.

In college, I can remember cramming my whole dorm room into my two-door Dodge Avenger as tight as possible to drive home for the summer. I had to use bags instead of boxes because everything had to be flexible enough to be smashed into tight corners. When I moved to California, all I had was a backpack and two duffel bags because that’s all I could carry. Then after I had accumulated some stuff, I strapped my box spring and mattress to the roof of my car and drove it up the 405 from Orange County to Burbank. I’ve never been more happy for stop-and-go traffic.

After getting married, we largely moved ourselves into our first apartment together, borrowing my father-in-law’s truck for some of it. In order to save on the delivery fee, we brought home our new couch only to discover that it wouldn’t go in the front door. These two Mormon kids had pitty on us and offered to help. But after we barely got it in through the second story window while balancing on the first-floor neighbors patio fence, they never made eye contact with us again.

Then we started making enough money to actually pay for movers. What a game changer! It was a small step forward to allowing other people to help, since it wasn’t presuming on someone else’s generosity. We hired them to do a job, and one that they were supposed to be really good at (which wasn’t always true).

So as we were preparing last month for our next home move, I started again into the same routine. Shopping prices online for the best deal to do it ourselves. But before I could order a truckload of boxes again, my wife asked me, “Why don’t we see if someone has extras we could borrow?” Sure why not.

Fast forward two days later, after reaching out to some team members and the NextDoor app, our townhome was packed! The dining room (it was more of a nook then a “room”) was bursting with flattened boxes and packing paper everywhere. I ended taking some of it I calculated we wouldn’t need to the recycling center early just to have enough room to function. People gave us more than we could handle.

Then came hiring movers. Either I have a horrible memory or the prices for movers went through the roof. It seemed like everyone was quoting us double what I remember from several years ago. Then right as I was ready to swallow the cost of hiring someone, a coworker stopped me. He said, “Hey, congratulations on the house. When you are ready to move, let me know what date to come help.” My first reaction was to play it off politely, but then someone else said the same thing too. Then another.

This caused some tension in me, because I really hate inconveniencing people. But were these people being serious? Did they actually want to help? Would I be slapping them in the face by not giving them a chance to help? Was I way overthinking this?

The answer is “Yes.” When you have good people in your life that love you, they often times are much more willing to look past an inconvenience to help you out. And that’s hard to stomach at times, even for people who love being on the giving end of it. Maybe they would enjoy generously giving their time and energy to move boxes. As my mom says, “Don’t yuck my yum.”

Of course my mind then raced to, “Well I gotta make sure it’s nothing major. That we are ready to go, not still packing, saran-wrap the heck out of everything we can. No appliances to move. Etc.” All in the name of making it easier for them to help. I’m so weird.

But people showed up for us.

A week before, we had parents helping us with packing boxes, fixing things, solving fancy water heaters, loaning us ladders, and wrangling kids for multiple days. Then those teammates and more actually showed up to load the Uhaul.

As it started filling up quickly, I started creating a mental list of all the things I’d need to get on the return trip. I would send everyone home after we got most of it the first trip, but I’d handle the leftovers myself. Then someone said, “I’ll get the table and chairs in my truck,” and another chimed in, “We can totally strap this twin mattress to the roof of my car.” And that’s what we did, caravanning the 7 mile trek with every vehicle packed with the stuff I was worried about being too much. In the end, an hour and a half later, they moved us faster and more efficiently than I’ve ever experienced, including using the professionals.

So at the end of the move, a drink in one hand and a slice of Papa Johns in the other (still slightly mad that I couldn’t procure better pizza from Jet’s) and surrounded by these people that helped us… I felt blessed. Abundantly. By so many people. Which is sometimes harder to swallow than just doing it yourself.

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