I’ve always been a giving person; I don’t remember being any other way.
Certainly, life experiences such as caring for my siblings when I was very young molded me. In the same way, a near-death experience nurtured my giving nature and caused me to pay attention to what is really important. And I paid attention to living by and being taught quotes such as the following (to name a few):
“You get more joy out of the giving to others, and should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” — John Andrew Holmes
I’ve been taught all my life that “Giving is its own reward … Giving is a mighty mission … It is more blessed to give than to receive — and never mind the return, the return will take care of itself.”
I was brought up on Southern hospitality — and did not know that a person could give too much.
When my marriage was falling apart, I went to a marriage counselor, alone, who told me in a negative way, that I was a “good and faithful servant.”
I remember thinking at the time, “Isn’t that what I am supposed to be?”
The problem was: I wasn’t receiving anything back, and I was drained.
I’ve always believed that to feed my soul, the best thing I could do is to give to someone who couldn’t give back to me, so why wouldn’t it work for a one-sided marriage? My husband didn’t know how to give, so couldn’t this situation be a feeding of my soul?
I was trying desperately to continue to give, because I knew that once I stopped giving, the marriage would be over. And I was right.
I learned that in some relationships, we must receive in order to keep giving, or the relationship falls apart.
In some life situations, it’s possible to give without the thought or the need for return.
One small example: 10 years ago, I had so many accumulated PTOs (Paid Time Off-days) that I shared my abundance with people who were ill or injured. If there was a call for help, I gave, whether I knew the person in need or not. And I always gave anonymously, because I did not want anyone to feel obligated to me in any way and that was a big part of feeding my soul.
In some life situations, the gift given without expectation of return returns in unexpected ways.
Fast forward to today: I quit my job working for a consulting firm and went to work for a hospital about 8 months ago.
I was injured at home. I had enough PTOs for two weeks of pay on December 10th. The Human Resources representative told me that when I ran out of PTOs, my job would be posted; in short, I would lose my job. It was policy, and the director “is a stickler for policy.”
It’s now Jan 21st, and I’ve had complications; I still have not been able to return to work. But I still have a job waiting for me.
Something amazing has been happening. People are giving me their PTOs!
Something else has happened too: someone cared enough to dig deeper into policies — and found a loophole. I’m now on medical leave.
People are volunteering to do so much for me. They want to give to me. They act like they are honored when I need a ride (because with my injury, I can’t drive).
To be honest, I would rather be the one giving, and I truly always believed that the biggest blessings came from giving — but today I am being blessed by receiving and giving the gift of allowing others to give to me. It’s humbling, but soul-feeding, too.