Friday, October 14, 2016

Why I Don't Give Back

Have you caught on to a similar theme in my posts? ;) 
You're so smart.

Today I want to tell you why I don't give back.
Any guesses?

I did not understand what it meant to be charitable for a really long time. It has always been my instinct to be "protective" with myself, including my time, money, talents, and service. In other words, I was selfish. I've viewed humans as not to be trusted, and thought the worst of everyone, most of my life. The truth is most people I knew weren't trustworthy and didn't do very good things. That was my experience with people. Always getting short-handed, taken advantage of, ripped apart, and gossiped about by others. In retaliation, I grew more reserved and cynical. Disguised as wit and sarcasm, my resentment toward "people" expounded year by year, one bad experience after the other. My concerns were validated. People didn't give to me, so I didn't give back. The end.

In adulthood, I began to become aware of people around me who were extremely kind and generous. They were always the first to volunteer time, offer to pick up an extra gallon of milk at the store, or pay for dinner. They weren't as common as the people who treated me poorly, but they were out there. Shining like unicorns! Unique, special, rare creature that were....GASP...nice!!

Super annoyed me. 
How could someone care about me? I thought.
They must want something. 
I'm not so easily fooled.
I will uncover their motives.
I'll focus on their flaws until they betray me, they I'll turn around and point, Ah-ha! See, I knew it.

This attitude followed me around, sabotaging prospects for friendships and giving me a reputation as a grump. Funny, but grumpy. Like Chelsea Handler.
(Still a compliment, in my opinion)

Except I wasn't satisfied with my relationships. I would find myself asking, Why don't people call me more? Why don't people care when I go through a tragedy? Why don't people ask about my successes or my failures? What am I doing wrong?

Bitterly, I thought, I'm never doing anything for anyone ever again. My friends have abandoned me, my family doesn't care, God sends me to voicemail when I have Him on speed dial.

Then it dawned on me. I haven't been Christlike.
It occurred to me, in my slow process to maturity, that "giving back" wasn't as important to my journey of growth as "giving forward."

I made a change right then. I was going to "give forward."
I started buying flowers for people I cared about during their struggles. I wrote notes and bought snacks for coworkers. I volunteered more of my time at my local church. I volunteer for the Addiction Recovery Program, and travel to give presentations on it. I began GIVING more of my time, service, and talents to people around me, without worrying about how much I was being given first. Instead of focusing on "giving back", I put my energy into "giving forward."

Something really cool happened. It took a really long time. Probably because people either had no idea who I was, or they knew who I was--a grumpy recluse--and they had no idea why I was bringing them cookies to their doorstep. Like, total creep. Right?

Well, it was neat to watch people warm up to me. Rely on me. Smile and wave. Call me by name. Call me to borrow milk. Ask me to have a play date, or better yet, to babysit. The more time i invested in others, the more people invested in me. It was tricky at first, and I sometimes felt really insecure or embarrassed or afraid of rejection. Not always will my efforts be reciprocated. But the miraculous thing is my feelings toward people have changed. I now see there are a lot of good people out there, and I can attract them by giving forward. I had been attractive negative people and negative behaviors, without knowing it. Now I expend energy in a positive way, in the example of Christ, and it has yielded a more positive reward.

The truth is I don't need to wait to "give back" to someone. I spent so much time irritated with people, when I was really irritating myself. Unwilling to reach out to someone in need unless they did something for me first. Including my husband! Duh...
Total buzz kill...

Good thing I'm all grown up now and super smart (like you)
I don't give back. I give forward. And I'm so happy for the new friends I've made and the joy service has brought me. Not to mention how much happier me and my husband are now that there is a balance of give and take. Once I started giving more, my husband started giving more. A win win for all! Just as Christ said, he who loses His life in my service, shall find it.
Or...something like that :)
You get the picture.

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