Last week Ann said, “I just give—way too much!”
She began explaining how she gives and gives and then there is nothing left for her.
So I started watching other people and how much they give and how it affects them.
One of my friends is a borderline hoarder and hardly has room for all her stuff. When people suggest she give some of it away, she cringes.
She says, “People say giving feels good, but I can’t possibly understand how giving away my things would feel good.”
This friend and I went to a meeting later that day and I was introduced to Cathy. Cathy said, “Are you the Leace from Freecycle that is always giving all of her stuff away?” Freecycle is a national organization that was created to keep things out of the landfill that could still be used. Everything must be offered totally free.
I love Freecycle because it gives me a chance to give. I don’t’ have a lot, but on this site, the people are so appreciative. I have offered furniture, clothes, appliances, food and much more.
Since I lost my job due to a disability, the love of giving got even stronger. I would try to challenge myself and give away things I really cherished. I wanted to find out if I really had attachments to objects, which I did not want to have.
I believe that part of giving is not just giving away your old clothes, or ripped up furniture. For me, it was almost like a test. If I had two of something and I wanted to give one away, would I give the crappy one away and keep the new one for myself? How would that make me feel?
I think part of what Ann was talking about was not just giving of physical objects. I think she was also speaking of giving of time and emotional support as well. This can be very tricky. A friend calls just when you are about to go out to dinner at a new restaurant. She really needs to talk to someone. Can you spare a minute, or do you owe it to yourself to get out to that restaurant before the whole evening out is ruined?
I do not believe a person can give too much. I think that when it starts feeling like that, it probably is no longer coming from your heart. If you start feeling like the Grinch that stole Christmas, and your heart is shrinking, maybe you do need to step back and take a peek inside. Maybe you started giving to boost up your ego and now it has become a burden.
Giving is an expression of love and love is unconditional.
If you give with any expectations, than that is not love. Even the expectations of how a person should respond to your giving can be another tough one. What if they didn’t show they appreciated it very much? Then, you feel like you give and give and not give enough to yourself. You get tired of people not appreciating you. There is a form of attachment to your giving and it stops feeling good.
Maybe that is why I like giving on Freecycle. I don’t really get to hang around them after I have given things away to find out if they took care of it, are still appreciating it, or maybe they too just gave it away. I would never know and that does make giving without expectations much easier.
I shared with Ann that I am getting low on funds and food. She sent me a text saying that she could give me some things out of her cabinets. I was more than appreciative until I got the next text, “I wish I could give you more, but I am depleted from my recent move and remodel.” Well, I did not want to be on the receiving end of someone that states she gives too much and then adds in how she is also depleted. It just didn’t feel right. I had that knot you get in your stomach when you just know you are about to do something wrong.
I told her thanks but no thanks.
Later that day, another friend came over. She told me this was a tight month for her and she didn’t have much food. I didn’t tell her about my own struggles, but I gave her half of what I had. She looked at the meager food and was so excited and appreciative. It reminded me how unappreciative I had been about my half. Thanks to Ann, I was able to see this more clearly.
When I moved into the house I am renting now, it came furnished. Not just with furniture but with dishes, silverware, and even sheets and towels! This was the ultimate test if I could give everything away. I loved it. When I moved in, I loaded my car up with my clothes and unpacked in 10 minutes flat.
Many people asked me what I will do when it’s time to move and I don’t have anything. I would say, “I will be so happy not to have to hire movers!”
It looks like when my lease is up, I am not going to stay here. As I stated, I will not need movers. I may go to the thrift store and buy a bowl, a spoon and a mat to sleep on. Then, if someone is looking for a new mat, I would probably give that away too!
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Ed: B. Bemel