Giving the Gift of Giving

For a long time I resisted kindness and assistance when it was offered to me. If someone offered to help me in some way, I turned it down. I didn’t want to be a burden. I didn’t want to be the person to inconvenience them, to take something away. I was always more willing to sacrifice my own time and comfort over taking it away from someone else.

I’m not sure when this began to change, but I do remember very clearly the idea at the heart of my decision to embrace receiving: It was the realization that the ability to give is a gift and as the receiver, I was enabling that gift by receiving it. If I take the opportunity away from someone—if I turn down their help or assistance or generosity when they offer it—I’m actually depriving them of the gift of giving.

So now instead of pulling away when someone extends a hand—when they offer to buy dinner or give me a place to stay for the night—I remember that turning down their offer would be stealing from them something that only I can give in that moment: the gift of giving. And when someone could use my help or generosity and I’m in the position to give, I remember that it doesn’t matter how little I have because giving is the gift that gives back.

This thinking has revolutionized both my ability to give and to receive. I feel good about receiving because I know that I'm actually giving even more back. And because I'm so willing to receive, I feel more willing to give.

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