“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” –Khalil Gibran

Time or money? What about both? Now more than ever, it is increasingly easy to donate money to a cause over the phone, online, or even via text message. The recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge trend caused some controversy, as most campaigns do in some way or another, when people were challenged to dump buckets of ice over their heads or donate to mda.org to help fight Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. People were quickly called out for completing the challenge instead of donating to the cause and people who participated had to make the distinction that they were completing the challenge and also donating to the fund. Regardless of your feelings on this campaign, it is without a doubt a prime example of the culture we are living in that promotes not only displaying our good deeds but also making a game of it. We’ve arrived at an age where the world is moving so fast that in order to get our attention long enough to donate our time or money, we have to be engaged in a creative way. Ask anyone in marketing and they’ll tell you what an increasing challenge this has become.

The sport of giving. This style of completing challenges to give to a cause is a regular staple in my life. Athletes from my gym regularly compete in sponsored events designed to raise money for charity or to give to an individual who is going through a hard time. The CrossFit community has been creating events, sharing the message online, and competing in real life to give back since its inception. This community lifestyle, while off-putting to some due to its intense nature (everything can be modified, I swear!) transfers over into daily living.

Coming off of a very humbling back injury over the last month has made me realize just how much I appreciate being a part of that culture. As an athlete and a trainer, I want nothing more than to be back at 100% and competing with the rest of my community. But like my article on balance described last month, sometimes your body will make you rest if you won’t allow yourself the time to recover. I have dedicated the last month to intense physical therapy and rehabilitation that promotes active recovery. Unfortunately, like a lot of healthcare, those services are not cheap. Fortunately for me, the active living community understands this. I cannot begin to thank my physical therapist for the treatment that I have received pro bono. When I expressed that I didn’t know how to pay her back, she simply said, “Come back. Get healthy. Lead by example and show the other athletes how to come back from injury.”  Her kindness has been an eye-opening experience for me to learn how giving in this way can mold the spirit and actions of another. I am truly inspired by her generosity towards me. I’ve also come to learn and believe that the best generosity received is the kind that you can’t pay back. When I attempted to buy her lunch last week, the restaurant rang up her meal free of charge randomly before I could even swipe my card! The universe just won’t let me repay her when I try.

Can generosity really be defined? I think that when it comes down to it, generosity is all around us, whether you make an impact by donating funds to a cause or volunteering your time. Even the smallest gestures can make a difference in someone’s day. And the large ones can be life changing. The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me. Is it more authentic to give your time or your money? To pay it forward, or to give it back? It’s up to the individual to decide but from the personal experience of being on the receiving end as of late, generosity continues to prove that it can make the world move in the right direction.


Lauren Messer is a renaissance millennial striving to create balance while learning from the moments in her journey. As a producer in media production, she is on the forefront of content driven visual messaging. She has her Masters of Communications Studies from the University of Alabama, is a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, and ESL tutor in Dallas, Texas. 

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