My wife and I usually use Giving Anonymously to give through, but not long ago we decided to give to some friends of ours by handing them the gift in person so that they knew it was from us. We had to explain that it was simply a gift. But afterwards I realized it wasn’t simply a gift. There was something I was hoping to gain in return.
I wanted them to know that we loved them, that we appreciated the way they’ve given to us, and as hard as it is for me to say, deep down I was trying to buy more of their friendship.
After this experience I thought of other things in the past along with gifts, that I should have given freely, but instead I gave with a subtle hope of gaining something in return. Forgiveness, apologies, compliments, my time, phone calls, notes, prayers, and so on.
What was I hoping to gain in return?
Sometimes it was to be thought of more highly by that person, so that others would know I’m a good caring guy. Sometimes I’ve used an apology to stop conflict I didn’t want to deal with. All things that if given freely would have been so much more meaningful to me and to the person given to.
Helping people give to one another, here at GA, has taught me a few things. Most importantly, that giving transforms lives. We get to hear stories of this happening every day. And I believe that the reason it’s so powerful is because it’s being done anonymously. Secondly, it’s challenged me to be more generous in all ways not just with money, and to do so without subtly wanting or asking for anything in return. To live a life that gives freely.
– by Lionel Thompson