Givers and Takers

IT'S not unusual to feel that the world is populated by two kinds of people--the givers and the takers. And often, we may feel that we are the givers and most everyone else is a taker! That's the way I used to feel most of the time. It seemed that I gave more than I got. But I didn't usually mind. I liked to think of my friends and family, and I tried to do things for them that would please them. Sometimes they were really appreciative of my efforts and that made me feel good. And even when I was disappointed by their reaction, knowing that I had done something kind gave me a good feeling. It was the right thing to do.

I had read what Christ Jesus said on the subject in the book of Luke in the Bible. He says, ``Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great'' (6:35). I have to admit, though, that occasionally I wondered about that reward. When would it come and from whom? When would I meet someone who was a giver? I tried to take comfort in the adage ``What goes around, comes around,'' and I hoped that eventually I would be recompensed for all I had done for others, even if it meant waiting awhile.

Then, several years ago, I thought about all of this more specifically. I was dating a man I cared about a great deal. I did my best to make him feel special. Sometimes I gave him little gifts to let him know that I was thinking about him. I did favors for him whenever the opportunity arose. My friend seemed appreciative, but he rarely reciprocated. My other friends thought I was foolish to continue giving so much, and they told me so! It didn't feel right to have such imbalance in the relationship, but I didn't want to be the kind of person who gave in hopes that someone would give in return. I knew that wouldn't feel right, either. I thought about what Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, wrote in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says, ``Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us'' (p. 79).

I wanted to have a better understanding of this idea, so I turned to God and prayed about the whole issue. Soon I had my answer. I realized for the first time that the getting is actually included in the giving. It's one thing. When we do something kind for someone else, we're expressing our God-given identity as the image of God, divine Love. We are living spiritual qualities such as selflessness and joy. When we give to another, we are not giving these qualities away. In fact, they are more clearly ours. Because we are actively expressing these qualities, we are ex-periencing them in a very concrete way. We are blessed just as much as the recipient is!

I found that I didn't have to moderate my giving, and I no longer wondered when my reward would arrive! I knew it already had, and that opened the way for me to give more freely and more joyfully. This particular dating relationship soon ended naturally and harmoniously. Not too long after, I met the man who became my husband. One of the things he expresses so beautifully is generosity of his time and resources--to those close to him as well as to strangers.

How wonderful to know that it is God who is truly the giver--the source of all giving. There is, therefore, a never-ending supply of good for us to express in appropriate ways. And this is rewarding for all involved!

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