5 Reasons for Givers to Be Grateful
For years, my grandfather complained that "thanks" was the word he heard most often from his youngest son. It was the old man's way of saying that he was always the giver and my uncle was always the recipient. What he gave most often were items of clothing: ties, shoes, and sweaters, which were borrowed, not to be returned.
My grandfather stopped complaining when his son congratulated him for having such a fine sense of fashion. He became grateful that his son had such a positive view of him.
Especially during the holiday season, it makes sense for givers (like my late grandfather) to give thanks for their God-like role of initiating and inspiring gratitude in others. Sometimes, one gift is all it takes to change the holidays for the recipient from uneventful to exciting.
5 Reasons Why Givers Should Feel Grateful
- Seed Planting
"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others." -Augustine
Good stewardship considers that we are all recipients, some having been given more than others. We have someone to thank for sharing, or Someone to thank for the strength and skill to labor and earn. How we distribute our gifts among ourselves and others demonstrates how responsible (or irresponsible) we are in our position as stewards.
Accountability is a major factor. Since all have received, all have something to give. Those who receive the most may be able to give the most. They may have the most gratitude to express. They may even demonstrate their gratitude in the volume of their generosity.
Regardless of the size of the gift, givers have reason to express thanks with every size of gift they share with their equals, or contribute to the less fortunate. Every food item placed in the Thanksgiving basket, and every gift-wrapped product under the Christmas tree is reason for the givers to be grateful that they have enough to share.
"When you give and carry out acts of kindness, it’s as though something inside your body responds and says, 'Yes, this is how I ought to feel.'" -Rabbi Harold Kushner
Every gift is not given out of abundance. Even then, there is reason to be grateful for the gratification that comes with sacrificial giving. There is also some character growth that comes with denying one's self so that someone else can benefit from a gift which the giver intended to keep. Such a gift often stretches the giver's compassion, loyalty and sense of worth.
Selflessness places priority on people rather than on possessions. It proves that the giver understands the real purpose of life. There is no comparison between a tangible gift and the gift of life which Jim Elliott ultimately gave, but selfless givers may mature into the acceptance of his philosophy that " He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Gaining such wisdom is reason to express gratitude.
"Give freely to the world these gifts of love and compassion. Do not concern yourself with how much you receive in return, just know in your heart it will be returned." -Steve Maraboli
3. Seed Planting
Genuine kindness does not hold out for mutual exchange of gifts, although givers are aware that kindness is usually requited from unexpected sources. Every gift given is a seed sown with the potential to grow and bloom. Sometimes it spreads right back to the giver as in the story of Jackie Turner, portrayed in the 2015 Christmas movie, My One Christmas Wish.
Jackie, neglected by her parents grew up in the foster care system. Despite her early setbacks, she became a generous giver of her time, her friendship, and her strong spirit. When she advertised on Craig's list for a family for Christmas, sixty-two responses made her forget herself and invest her attention and effort in getting others into families for Christmas.
What she reaped was a family who accepted her and a movie deal to tell the story of her selflessness. She continues to give of herself in ministry to youth and families, teaching life skills, music and self-defense. She is grateful that she sowed the seeds which blossomed into circumstances that positively changed her life and the lives of others.
"For it is in giving that we receive." -Francis of Assisi
If givers followed their acts of kindness they would be surprised at the far-reaching effect of their generosity. Still without knowing how they affected other people, they are surprised at the joy they receive from their giving—joy they anticipated for the recipients, not for them.
They become even more surprised when they discover that their gifts often supply the answers to the prayers of others; that some who notice their kindness are impressed to become givers; that they continue to receive more gifts in multiplied amounts.
It is a surprising cycle of generosity and gratitude which inspires more giving, followed by more expressions of thanks over and over, and all over again.
"Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say . . . Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding." -Alice Walker
So at the end of the day or at the end of the holidays, for what do givers give thanks? Hopefully both for the gifts they received and also for the privilege of being givers.
Through the gifts they accept, they allow others to secure the blessings promised to givers. Through the gifts they give, they extend the atmosphere of love, peace and joy. They have nothing about which to boast, only something about which to be satisfied—and grateful.
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© 2016 Dora Weithers