EmPulse for Week of November 22, 2010
‘Tis the season to be thankful; to accept the invitations to dinner, parties, and celebrations of all kinds. Americans have Thanksgiving, as do Canadians (a month earlier), the Chinese their August Moon Festival, the Brits their Harvest Festival, and the Koreans, Chu Suk. Of the countries that celebrate a day of “thanks” most direct their thankfulness to the heavens, to a god or gods that they consider the source of their bounty.
Nonetheless, hidden among our masses, across cultural lines, are those select few who have a serious problem with being thankful. Some believe that everyone must pull themselves up by their own boot-straps, to be dependent upon no one. This group also has difficulty with giving. They are subtle isolationists, unable to give without serious calculation, if at all. Others are more cautious with their finances; saving for a rainy day, storing up as much as possible—because you never know when catastrophe might hit. There are also those who simply do not believe in giving, period. They have no reason to not give; they just don’t. It’s a matter of principle, they say. To this day I have no idea which principle that might be.
Then there are some who do not like to receive charity. [charity ¹ love] They see it as a hand-out, a bribe for some future favor; accepting a gift, an invitation to dinner, whatever, would place them in a position of being beholdin’ to another, like an un-tethered prisoner. Even-Steven, that’s the way it should be. I keep what’s mine, you keep what’s yours. We need those fences to keep things in proper perspective. Receiving a gift, an invitation to dine out, a service of any kind, implies that I am less, and that the Giver is more. I lack something that someone else provides. This threatens my self-esteem as deeply as any caustic criticism or slanderous comment. Or, maybe they’re just sucking up to me in hopes of a future favor from me? What a way to live!
What is it with us that we find it difficult to give or receive from someone else!?! And to receive a big gift, a grand act of generosity, why that’s just an insult.
Research (for example- http://www.cignabehavioral.com/web/basicsite/bulletinBoard/effectsOfHumanKindness.jsp ) has shown that people who give, and graciously receive, live longer, fly freer in their spirit, and are more full of LIFE than those who cloister themselves away in self-insulating safety zones. In most cases, these people have a rich relationship with the God who made them; they live their lives in deep appreciation for all He has given them (or so they believe).
I encourage you to take a RISK—receive a gift for what it is, a gift. Do not look for hidden strings or agendas, just accept it, no matter if it is a Gerbil or a Jaguar (the car, not the cat). And be thankful.
I also encourage you to GIVE— not to feel good about your act, but because it is right, decent, and purely generous. Do it solely to honor the other, without seeking any recognition other than Thank you. In so doing you honor the God who made you and set fear and greed on their heads.
So, thank you. That’s just the way it is.
Have a nice week.