Walk to Beautiful
One of the most moving and true stories I have ever read is Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way, the story of Jimmy Wayne. Jimmy is a country music singer-songwriter whose songs have topped the charts. His song “Do You Believe Me Now?” was played over 100,000,000 times on the radio earning him the millionaire award. He is also now a NYT bestselling author and has a movie based on his book Paper Angels. With all that success, he still identifies himself more as a foster kid who faced numerous challenges growing up in a difficult system.
Recently, I was visiting Nashville and met Jimmy at an event to raise money for the Salvation Army.
Saved By Love
Do you know how this country music star got his first guitar? If you have participated in the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program, you will have the answer. That anonymous gift was the beginning of a musical journey. Each year children in need fill out angel tags containing gift wishes and place them on a tree. Jimmy received his first guitar through this program. You can make a dream come true by helping others through the Salvation Army’s program.
After reading his compelling story and speaking with him, I thought about 7 lessons Jimmy Wayne taught me about giving and sharing.
Jimmy taught me to:
1. Give the gift of encouragement.
As a homeless teenager, Jimmy befriended an elderly couple, who took him in. When he speaks of this couple, and the words of love and appreciation they expressed to him, you will be reminded of the power of encouragement. Contrast that to the words spoken by a prison guard; words that, to this day, still seem to haunt him.
Use every opportunity to encourage others with words of love and appreciation.
2. Give with no expectation.
So often we give and expect something back. True givers experience the joy of giving with no expectation. Anything given with an expectation is not really a gift.
“Anything given with an expectation is not really a gift.” -Skip Prichard
3. Give of yourself.
Bea Costner opened her home to Jimmy, gave of her time, her talent, and her love. She demonstrated the power of giving is when it comes from the heart with nothing held back.
“The power of giving is when it comes from the heart and nothing is held back.”
4. Give your unique giftedness.
No one else has your unique gifts. Use them in a way that adds your unique prints to the world. Jimmy shares his vulnerability, his depression, his struggles in a way that will inspire you.
“No one else has your unique gift and only you can share it.” -Skip Prichard
5. Give love.
Express it. Mean it. Don’t miss the opportunity. One of my favorite parts of Jimmy’s story is when he leaves his comfort zone and shares his love and appreciation for Bea, who changed his life. And you will read why it was just in time.
At every opportunity, love. You won’t believe how your life will change.
6. Give forward.
Don’t let the past define you. No matter your past, you can change your future. Jimmy walked halfway across America to raise visibility for foster children. Not forgetting his past, Jimmy is paying it forward, making a difference. We can all learn from this and make a difference.
7. Give continually.
Even if it isn’t appreciated. Even if it doesn’t seem to be making a difference. Even if you’re not “feeling it.” Just keep giving. Mile after mile Jimmy walked on through depression and with a broken foot. He has learned that giving isn’t a temporary, seasonal activity, but a way of life.
“Giving isn’t temporary or seasonal; it’s a way of life.” -Skip Prichard
This book and Jimmy’s story is sometimes difficult to read, but it is also uplifting and inspiring. I encourage you to read it and, like me, think about ways to put its powerful message to work.
“Don’t walk only when it is convenient; don’t merely walk till you get tired; keep walking through it all. Walk to Beautiful.” -Jimmy Wayne
Here is one of my favorite Jimmy Wayne songs and videos:
Walk to Beautiful: The Power of Love and a Homeless Kid Who Found the Way