Book Review- The Courage to Give

courage to giveWhen multiple sclerosis disrupted Jackie Waldman’s otherwise “charmed life” she went through all the phases of grief–fear, denial, anger and resentment. “As part of my anger, I resented any happiness I saw around me. When Steve [her husband] played the piano and the kids laughed and sang with him, it made me angry…How could they have fun? Didn’t they know how much pain I was in?” Watching others experiencing happiness when she was not was difficult enough, but when it became clear that she was no longer going to be capable of running her business and she was forced to sell all of her inventory and close the doors for good, she thought her life was over. She felt it wasn’t fair to her husband and children to be stuck with her and her sickness. She could see no purpose in her life anymore. Then a close friend started talking to her about the reality of miracles and the power of kindness. Through insights in books and the profound influence of the movie Schindler’s List, Jackie, a go-getter at heart decided to take action. She and her friend headed up a week-long focus on kindness in the Dallas, Texas area. Through speeches, rallies and interfaith services, Jackie watched miracle after miracle take place in the lives of those involved. “For the very first time since my MS diagnosis, I was feeling someone else’s pain and not thinking of myself. I liked the way I was feeling, so I took more volunteer jobs.” Through the service she was giving, Jackie learned that she could truly find happiness again, by giving happiness to others. After a year of “saying yes to everyone,” she realized she couldn’t do it all. She turned to God in prayer promising, “I’ll say ‘Yes’ to whatever YOU ask me to do. What’s next?” The answer came with the inspiration to write a book, a book about those who had healed from their own difficult trials through serving others. She found a collaborator in Janis Leibs Dworkis and they went to work, eventually creating and publishing “The Courage to Give, Inspiring Stories of People Who Triumphed Over Tragedy to Make a Difference in the World.”

Principle: Self-pity must be overcome in order for healing to begin.

Themes: tragedy; overcoming; love; service; giving; trials; illness; loss

Read with: Teens with the Courage to Give (also by Waldman); Nurtured by Love; Out of My Life and Thought; Left to Tell; The Long Winter; Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Read: My favorites- chps. 3,6,8,11,17; For families- chps. 1,2,7,8,10-12,14-19,21,22,25-30; For adults- chps. 3,4,6,9,13,20,24


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