“It is better to give than to receive,” goes the old adage, and that’s true as far as it does go. Yes, there is joy in giving, but giving is a two-way street. It is also important to learn how to receive lest we diminish the giver’s joy and the value of his or her gift.
I’m not talking about physical gifts upon which is affixed a price tag. Yes, it is awkward if I give you a gift from Neiman-Marcus and you give me a gift from the Dollar Store, but that can be rectified fairly easily in the next cycle of gift-giving holidays, and probably will be because most of us keep score. It may be informal and it may have never been discussed, but we do keep score, and this is why the Neiman-Marcus/Dollar Store exchange rarely ever happens anyway.
I am talking about receiving spiritual gifts; gifts of sympathy, understanding, love, especially when those gifts are unconditional. If you try to repay such gifts, you demonstrate that you don’t quite comprehend the significance of the gift. You diminish it. It is natural to want to repay the giver of such a gift. It’s natural to want to show appreciation, to thank the person, to do, something for him or her. It can seem downright shabby to simply say “thank you,” which we often accompany with the sentence, “That’s the least that I can do.” Often, the least you can do is the most you can do. It is often the best reaction.
Maybe, the giver doesn’t need any sympathy, understanding or love. (And mind you, these are simply three examples, albeit, very powerful examples.) Maybe you’re not meant to be the giver of such a gift to that person.
It’s hard not to express one’s gratitude for someone who “saved” you from some love gone wrong or life gone wrong or from yourself. It’s hard not to feel indebted to such givers, but perhaps the old adage has a deeper meaning than we realize. You see, such givers have the gift of sympathy or understanding or love and they must give it for the same reason that they must breathe. Don’t analyze it, don’t try to reciprocate it, and don’t ask, “Why are you spending so much on me?” The answer will always be, “Because you need that much.”
We like to think that we are capable of giving unconditionally, but it is just as important to learn how to receive unconditionally.
Austin, this post was spot on! This is what attracted me to you during our youth days at Loch Raven. You always had a kind word of encoragement to those around you (I count myself as one of them) Hope you and your family are doing well. Your friend always, Don.
Thank you, Don! Nice to hear from you again. We are doing well. Marley, grandbaby #2 arrived 8 months ago tomorrow! Hope you and yours are happy and healthy.