You can’t give what you don’t have.
I’ve always believed in this. Think of all the things you can give- money, time, gifts, and even love, all of these you cannot give unless you have at least some of them to begin with. And I know this truth very well myself.
If you met me or you were friends with me more than a decade ago, you wouldn’t think I’d be anywhere the person I am today. Back then, I was cynical, surly, unloving, and in serious lack of great relationships. In hindsight, I knew I was like that because 1) I was overworked with barely any time to relax or recuperate, and 2) I nurtured only a few relationships, most of which were just sucking all the energy (and time and money and so much more…) out of me.
But then I met the Lord in 2006. And everything just changed not only for the better, but for the BEST.
In reading God’s Word and meeting people who had a great relationship with Jesus, I began to be filled with a new spirit.
God’s Word, Good News
Reading the Bible really helped in giving me an accurate picture of my insecurities and the root of my sour spirit. I began to be truthful about myself because of this. Yet the good thing was, God’s Word also gave me an accurate picture of God’s love for me. This has made me become unafraid about facing the ugly truth about myself, because it meant that I can find hope and change in the love of God. In turn, this has made want to share the good news with other people. I actually became more patient in meeting new people and understanding of their situations, as God had been patient and understanding of me!
God’s People, Good Company
Relationships played a big part also. But first things first: I dropped relationships that weren’t helping me to become more loving and open toward others. And then, I gained new ones that filled me up with things I lacked greatly, like kindness, compassion, gentleness.
I remember being so surprised that new friends were willing to just shower me with love, time, and affection without really getting anything in return. I think I’ve been inclined to think of everything as an exchange or business, largely because that’s what I’d been doing for years. Every single thing was paid for, and thought all relationships must be equally compensated for their services. But these amazing people showed me that they were willing to serve out of love.
One example was the Punzalan family. When I was just a newbie in church, with open arms, they “took me in.” They brought me along with them as if I was a Punzalan myself. They opened their house to me, and there I would spend many afternoons and nights either playing with the kids, talking to Ate Jenn about the things happening in my life (what an amazing listener she is, as well as adviser!), and Kuya Paolo making me kamusta and encouraging me most of the time. Back then, I’d calculate in my head how much time and money they were spending just to have me over, and the sum was not very little. Moreover, I wasn’t the only one they would do this to, but many others who needed company and guidance like me, as well.
Soon enough I became strong in the faith, got busy again, and somewhere along the way fell in love and got married. In building a home with my husband, I find myself doing the exact same thing the Punzalans did for me before. I opened our home, and basically the whole of our life as a family to those who needed company and guidance as well. No matter how small our unit is, we use it to welcome people who want times of refreshing and memory-making.
Again, a decade ago and I wouldn’t really do this kind of thing. Or maybe I would, but with a very irritable, cranky disposition. I figured that what’s different now are:
1) My tank is full. My love tank has been filled to the brim from the time that I met the Lord, through a season of singlehood, and now in marriage. All those times till today, my tank has been loaded with the good graces of God, and the people around me. Aside from the Punzalans, I think I have said so much already about the love and service my husband gives to me everyday. My family and friends, too, and this makes me feel and act behind the philosophy: I have so much, so I can give so much!
2) It was done to me, so I can do it to others. Sometimes, no matter how much we want to do some things to others, we just can’t because we don’t have any idea how to go about it. I know I can open my home and life to others today because the Punzalans modeled it so perfectly to me. Is it not true that many of the things we do, we do because someone did that to us first? These days I often catch myself saying I do this or that to my baby because this is what my mom used to do to me.
Gas up! A full tank means the farther you can go.
The bottom line really is the chicken and egg of giving and receiving. When we receive, not only does it make us able, but even willing to give. And the best thing about grace and generosity practiced this way is that the more we give, we can also be sure the more we will receive!
It’s time to reflect, my dear friend.
Do you think you are able to give enough to others? If yes, where do you think is this coming from? If no, what do you think is the problem? Do you think you are not receiving enough? Or maybe even that you have problems receiving?
This week’s Reflection and Habit says this:
Reflection: People who can show love and affection to others have received it themselves. If we surround ourselves with fruitful relationships, we can share the love with other people as well.
Habit: Spend more time with loved ones who inspire you and motivate you. Get your fill of love so you can pass it on to others.
Often we think that love and affection should be voluntarily given to us. While that is true, we must also note that when we surround ourselves with people who are like parasites- those who just get from us but not give, then we might never really get the love and affection we so need for our own tanks. Remember, I was in that boat once before. It took a change of heart and change of surroundings and company before I became filled again. Maybe you, too, will receive more if you choose to spend more time with people who actually have so much of the love and affection you need.
May you have a great weekend, and the best year yet, of your life!