Saturday, April 6, 2013

We Can Only Give To The Extent That We Are Received

Matter of Taste Coffee Bar
Kitchener, Ontario

It feels good to give. Whether we are giving of ourselves to someone we love who is in a tough spot - say a job loss or a difficult relationship - or whether we are giving to someone we have never met before, it feels good.

But we can give to others only to the extent that we are fully received. Received by who, you may ask? Received by ourselves, and if you believe in the Divine, received by the Divine as well.

We get so bogged down by our own baggage, some of it is justified. We've been bruised and battered and our expectations of how life was going to turn out for us may have fallen through.  We need mending, we need to feel held. And to a certain degree we can be the recipient of those things from other people, but I think it needs to come from more than one person, like a religious community or social group, as well as time spent with a therapist. Because not one person can bear all of our pain, and our pain may drive them away.

But if we are on the road toward healing, we can begin to give, as we start to feel received and accepted by our inner selves, or the Divine. Otherwise we may find ourselves oozing our pain to those in need instead of helping them.

And it feels so good to give. Helping an elderly person to shovel snow from their driveway, sending a "thinking of you" card to a friend going through a hard time, or having coffee with someone who just needs a listening ear.

It is better to give than to receive, but we can only give to the extent that we have been received.

Mark Andrew Nouwen