I remember visiting some good friends of mine, Mark and Joan and their three children, several years back. I there on vacation and I was just leisurely sitting with Mark and Joan catching up on how things were going in their life.
They seemed a bit stressed out because bills were high, the cost of everything was going up, and they were unsure of where they were going to acquire more funds to pay for everything.
Their eldest daughter Joy, who was about 5 or 6 at the time, came running in the room and abruptly dumped her piggy bank of pennies on the floor. Apparently, she had overheard mommy and daddy talking and had wanted to contribute to the cause.
I was a bit heart struck as I watched this little girl count out her money. It was about 99 cents total. It was all that she had been saving up. I was about to compliment her when I heard Mark and Joan laugh at her. They told Joy that it was not enough to help and that she should put the money away.
Mark and Joan are certainly wonderful parents. But I believe they missed an important lesson that day. I believe they had the wonderful opportunity to learn a lesson from their daughter. I believe that in giving, one must learn to equally receive.
Culturally we are taught that it is better to give then receive. I believe the statement should be restated as, "It is a joyous, miraculous, and astonishing event when two parties give and receive." I know it's a little long winded, but I think you know where I'm going with this.
I see it all the time in families and relationships. I'm guilty of this as well. I see people's emotional cups drain because all they do is give to others. At times, people attach expectations to the giving and become discouraged when they do not gain anything in return. Then they stop giving all together. When you rearrange the word "selfless" you get "less self." Giving and receiving should be about being more whole.
So how does one even know how to receive?
Rather simply, I don't go seeking it. I just allow and pay attention when the opportunity presents itself. In fact, I allow a healthy dose of receiving in my life. Because when I allow a friend, a family member or even a stranger to give to me I witness something magical. What I focus on is this celebration, this connection I have with them. I give them an opportunity to exercise giving as well. And I'm very grateful for these moments. Because of the energy I get from these moments, my emotional cup is refilled and I am able to continuously give in return.