Friday, September 6, 2013

Giving and Receiving

Every spiritual discipline or religion emphasizes the importance of giving to others and performing acts of kindness, generosity and philanthropy. We are told from a very early age that it is our responsibility to be aware of others’ needs and perform acts of giving as part of our daily lives. What is often missing in the focus on giving is the role of the receiver – an essential and often ignored aspect of the act of giving.

The traditional approach to giving sets up a power discrepancy – one of benevolent giver and needy receiver. What the traditional approach often fails to recognize is the intertwined relationship between giver and receiver – specifically, each party in the transaction of giving is simultaneously both giver and receiver. Ultimately, the act of giving cannot take place without a receiver. Although the giver in this type of transaction may truly be kindhearted, generous and benevolent, he/she cannot accomplish the act and responsibility of giving without a receiver. Both parties are essential and both parties greatly benefit from giving.

At various points in our lives, we will find ourselves on the giving and receiving end of this type of relationship. Who we are being in each role both defines and develops our humanity. When we give with kindness, respect and an open heart, we honor the receiver, knowing that at any point in time the roles in this relationship can be reversed. When we graciously receive, we are engaging in a holy act of humility, kindness, appreciation and faith – faith in ourselves, others and the world. Intentionally engaging in the powerful acts of giving and receiving empowers each participant and brings grace into our lives and the world.

We are all givers and receivers. How do you give? How do you receive?


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