This morning I called JJ’s college instructors to talk to them about his classes. Of course, since I didn’t know their teaching schedules, I got their voice mail. One instructor, who teaches JJ’s stress management class, called back later. I told her that JJ wouldn’t be able to drive to the college for classes, and I asked if there any way he could do his assignments on-line. She said “Absolutely” so I handed the phone to JJ to discuss assignments with her. He talked to her for quite awhile and then told me that she said that he could write journal entries. If he couldn’t write, she’d accept a phone call as a journal entry. She said that he could call her at any time if he had questions. JJ had been nervous about talking to his instructors about school, but I had told him that I thought that talking to them would be very encouraging and would set his mind at rest. I was right. I expect that talking to the other instructors will also be as encouraging.
I’m glad we are getting this college issue addressed.
Since JJ started working at McDonalds last May, he has enjoyed ordering takeout from a little local diner, and then walking the two blocks to pick it up. The diner has only been in business for about a year, and JJ loves the food. He has gone there so often that he has developed a rapport with the husband/wife owners. Today JJ asked if he could have his favorite meal from Chubby’s, and since we are trying to fatten him up, I called in the order. After she took my order, the owner asked, “Is this for our boy?” I said yup! “It will be ready in 15 minutes,” she replied.
When I walked down to pick up the meal, the woman told me that she and her husband really care about JJ and he has supported their business so they would really like to support him by putting a donation can in their diner to raise money to help with his medical expenses. She wondered if I would mind. I could see the love in her face and was very touched. I could see that she wanted to do something for JJ so I gave her permission.
I think it’s difficult to accept help sometimes. However, I have heard from several cancer support groups/people that if support is offered, we should accept it. I also remembered something that I observed and pondered several years ago regarding two friends.
One friend loved to give to others, but she never wanted to receive. She only let people see her strengths. Whenever she was struggling, she’d withdraw. The other friend loved to receive, but she never really gave. She cried for hours about her problems and how no one cared, but when her friends were hurting and needed her, she ditched the friendship. These two friends taught me a lot about giving and receiving. It’s sort of complicated to describe though, so I hope I can make sense.
I believe that there is a positive and a negative side to giving and to receiving, and to be well-balanced, we need to be able to do both: to both give and receive.
What I observed is that in giving, a person learns to be generous, to care for others, to be other-centered rather than self-centered. When a person gives, she allows God to use her to bless others and she receives a blessing in return. It’s amazing to be used of God to help others.
However, I’ve also observed that if a person insists on always being the one to give and she never allows others give to her, she can become arrogant. She can see herself as the strong one, who is never, ever weak or needy. She is the wise one with all the answers. I’ve seen such a one begin to treat others with contempt because they are weak. I’ve seen her believe she has to protect others from the truth because “they can’t handle truth.” Also, no one is strong all the time, and having to maintain a facade of strength can be exhausting, as well as lead to hypocrisy. It can cause a person to feel like a martyr and to become resentful of always having to give to others.
In a way, I think the Only-Givers who have to be the strongest and wisest sort of feed off of the weakness of others. Because they have to be the strongest, the wisest, the most generous, they force people in their lives to be only receivers. Because they have to be the ones who generously bless, they steal from others the opportunity to bless. They do not experience God’s blessing because they reject the need to be given to.
I have also observed that a person who receives gets to experience the awesome help God gives through others. It is so amazing to have a desperate need, and then to have the need miraculously met. It can be humbling to have to accept help, but in receiving from others, a person learns humility, which is an important trait to learn.
One the other hand, I’ve observed that a person who always receives and never gives is in danger of becoming self-centered and overly dependent. Such a person becomes almost a vampire, sucking strength from others. These people never experience the joy of helping others.
I believe that the healthiest people are those who can both give AND receive. They get to be a blessing to others by giving, but they also give others the opportunity to be a blessing as well when they are willing to receive. They get to be used of God to help others, but they also let others be used of God. They learn to be other-centered by giving, but they learn humility through receiving.
Sometimes when someone gives to me abundantly, I feel humbled by their generosity, I thank God for using them to provide for us in awesome ways. I also remind myself how much I am joyfully blessed when I am able to help others. and I think “So why would I want to selfishly deny others that same blessing by rejecting their generosity?”
Today, when I saw the love on the face of the owner of the diner as she described the way she wanted to give to JJ, I thought.
Here there be love.
And I accepted it, even though it was humbling, because I know that I am blessed when others accept my loving help when they are in need.
Does this make sense?