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Monday, September 21, 2015

Reciprocity

'It's better to give than to receive'!

In my own life & I imagine, in the lives of many of my readers, not only is this so true, it had become almost an unspoken mantra for our lives! We would rather give our all for a cause we believe in than accept the help that certain others can see we need but we ourselvesves are clueless to. For whatever reason, we would much rather see others receive all the attention, to see other people be on the receiving end of all good things. It makes us happy; I guess we're just wired like that!

More often than not, those who seem the strongest turn out to have the most fragile hearts: those with the most to offer usually have the most need for the same gift in return! Sadly, in this too-oft cold cruel world, those who need this gift are deprived of it; they are expected to simply give until it hurts without the need for reciprocation, for just that one simple act of kindness in return!

When the givers do not receive like they should, the automatic response ( often necessary ) is to cease & desist, to simply stop giving altogether! Although it's difficult to imagine ourselves not giving anything at all; it often becomes necessary for us to switch gears, to focus inward for a time, to allow ourselves time to repair the breaches & stop the leaks!

When this happens, when givers seemingly give up on the world, the tendency for those who have been used to being on the receiving end is to look at their sometime benefactors & think, 'they just gave because they wanted to receive the same'; they might even accuse us of being cry-babies or even worse, of being fakes with ulterior motives! Though we must be careful who is privileged to be on the receiving end of our gifts, we must also remember how blessed we are to be able to give!

To give until it hurts, though seemingly a noble endeavor, cannot last forever; without the necessary reciprocation; there is only so much we can give before we can give no more! Once ( God forbid ) we reach this point, it often takes as long or longer to rebuild our own selves to the point where we can give again. In the process of rebuilding, or maybe even more to the point, rehabilitating ourselves, we have the opportunity to look at our former lives in review & note changes in our own behavior that need to be made: did we refuse proffered aid, for whatever reason, maybe we thought, 'I don't need anything' or 'they need this worse than I do'!

It is said, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'! Anyone that's been through hell or is currently making the journey can tell you, 'it's no fun'! Those give until it hurts but rarely if ever find themselves on the receiving end often find themselves wandering in this sort of hell, though their intentions were the best. Though we only intended to bless others with our particular gift or gifts, it sometimes turns out that our gift only encourages the receiver to laziness, to expect to always receive without ever having to give!

Both giving & receiving have their ( obvious ) benefits, but is it truly more blessed to give than to receive? In some sense yes, given certain situations, it most certainly gives one more of a sense of well-being to be able to offer ones gifts to the world with no promise or apparent need to receive the same in return. On the other hand, it is often more pleasant ( especially after a long drought ) to find oneself on the receiving end of goodness & kindness!

The Key to Happiness, we might surmise, is Reciprocity, to find that gentle balance of giving & receiving, giving, not until it hurts, but when it feels good & right, receiving, not because it is more or less blessed, but because we need the gifts of others as well! To give without ever receiving in turn can only last so long & it never turns out well for either party! In order for a person to give, they must  at some point receive; otherwise they become an empty shell. This empty shell may gradually be refilled in time, but those who have been used to being on the receiving end may have to get used to giving themselves for some time before that shell is filled to the point where it once again begins to overflow, blessing the lives of those around it!

May we who have been so used to giving & not receiving learn that gentle balance; may we learn to give with discernment, knowing the necessity of reciprocity, of receiving as well, in order that we might not wear ourselves out to the point of being tired of giving. There is great blessing in giving of ourselves, but if we find ourselves giving to the extent that it hurts, we should take that as a sign that we need to start receiving as well, not that we need to stop giving!

Charles Haddon Shank

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