Saturday, March 10, 2012

Givers And Takers...

I consider myself a “giver” by nature. I think it’s something I learned from both my parents. If a friend or family member needed anything, they were always there to do whatever they could to help. They would talk about ways to help others at the family dinner table. It wasn’t a lesson they intended to teach us, it was just the way it was. They never sat back and did nothing when there was something they could do. I don’t remember them ever saying no when someone asked them for a favor. So when my aunt had to work and needed my mom to watch my cousin, she did it willingly. When her older sister needed to go to the hospital everyday for six months to visit her son dying of cancer, my mother was right by her side. When my aunt needed to visit the cemetery on every holiday, my father got up early, picked her up and took her there, every time. The list is endless.

My parents weren’t too good at taking. They hated to ask for favors of any kind from anyone. If God forbid they ever needed something from someone, they would feel obligated or indebted to them. When someone did something unexpectedly nice for them, they could never repay them enough for their kindness and often went above and beyond what the other person had done for them.  I grew up learning about giving and taking from my mom and dad. 

I learned that when you are a giver, you get joy from helping and making others happy. Giving is it’s own reward. I do it because I want to and because I can. I find that when I hear a sad or unfortunate story, my first impulse is to think, what can I do about this to help. And the thing is, no matter how remotely removed this person may be from my life, even just a stranger online in the midst of a crisis, their problem sticks with and I will do what I can to find a solution. There was one time for example, a woman whose medical insurance ran out, but who had to get some tests done before her doctor would issue her new prescriptions She couldn’t afford the tests and she was worried sick over it. A friend of mine suggested Quest Diagnostics and I went to look it up. Quest works with people who don’t have insurance and are financially strapped. I found the information and passed it on to her within minutes and she was happy and relieved. I had put her mind at ease and she had hope. If I hadn’t, her story would have bothered me long after I signed off the computer. 

Of course, with people who are closer to me, I will even try to move a mountain, if that is what it takes, to help them out. A friend of mine told me recently, she has the ability to see people’s weaknesses and she said, “Yours is that you care too damn much.” I don’t know if caring too much is a weakness unless you run into people who take advance of your caring, who take it for granted, who exploit it, who don’t appreciate it, and who want to drain you of all you have to give. Fortunately for me, I haven’t run into too many people that abuse my good nature and, if I do, I think I would be smart enough to extricate myself from the relationship. I find, as I think about those people who are close to me, that I have family and a community of friends who have the same weakness as me, they are giving to a fault. And it’s very reassuring to know, that in times of crisis, you have people you can turn to, who will drop everything they are doing, and make the time to help you in your hour of need. I don’t make it a habit to ask for help. I rarely do. But I went through a difficult time a couple of years ago and my friends didn’t let me down. They listened to me talk things through and offered great advice and helped me get through it and come out stronger. That’s when you find out who your friends are, in times of trouble, not when life’s a bowl of cherries.

I’d rather be a giver than a taker any day of the week. I get joy from being able to give. I get peace of mind. I get much more from the act of giving, then the person on the receiving end ever does. My parents taught me an invaluable lesson that I hope I have passed down to my own girls.

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