By: Bonnie Wallace
At Christmas, perhaps more than any other time of the year, we find ourselves doing too much, giving too much and feeling too little. We often shut down due to too much stress and too little rest. As a result, we become numb and go on ‘automatic pilot’- a state in which we find ourselves being driven, constantly in motion, and in a sort of manic-like merriment. My hope for each of us during this holiday season, is to pause and take a slow, soft, and compassionate look at ourselves and ask some questions about our giving (or over-giving as the case may be).
How do I give? With great thought, care, and love; or do I give out of a place of guilt and compulsion, reluctantly, just to make others happy so they will give back to me?
Why do I give? How free am I to give or not to give? Do I give from an inner sense of calling and love; or do I give as a way to get approval, protect my image as a ‘giving person’ or from a sense of duty because I feel compelled to?
How do I feel as I give? With joy and gladness of heart; or do I often feel drained, manipulated and used by the way I give to others?
Melody Beattie, in her book, Beyond Codependency states: “Knowing when to give, how much, and to whom are as important as knowing when not to give. Our giving can be God’s hand touching people – or it can be empty, manipulative or self-serving.”
Clean, healthy and conscious giving is from our heart, our truest self, and involves listening to ourselves, discerning our inner calling and choosing to give with freedom and choice. Listening to the inner calling of the heart requires pausing, silence and time. Time spent in silence, will usually uncover our motivations for giving, feed our spirit and reveal our need for rest and sacred space. And as we honor our own needs and limitations, we will begin to nurture a cooler head, a calmer mind and a more open heart. We will begin to breathe and love more deeply and embrace giving with more simplicity and freedom. This kind of giving is outwardly more simple, of course, but inwardly more rich. It is lighter and cleaner.
Our final question for reflection about giving is this:
“Will giving in this way free me to love more deeply?” For love is our most honest hope. It is who we are. It is our truest, purest self. And it is this ‘self’ that loves and gives with gusto and delight. Knowingly, passionately. Love responding to Love.