None of us always feel like doing the right thing all of the time, like giving of ourselves and like living for others instead of ourselves. But, I wonder if it is the very key to experiencing the unforced rhythms of grace in our lives.
I wonder if as we nurture those who we encounter on life’s journey, we live with a greater sense of wellbeing.
Just from my own observation, the most giving people I know are also the happiest people I know.
It’s true that to live, we need to exhale, so that we can then inhale. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.
In the same way, we need to give, to receive. Give, receive, give, receive.
Not only is this a principle to live by, but it is a principle for life flow. It is oxygen.
In pouring out ourselves, we are not depleted, we are filled. In fact, my motive for giving is partly the purpose it creates within me, the energy and life it brings. I have found that a peaceful “inner” world (my mind, will and emotions) is greatly impacted by how I reach out into the “outer” world around me.
Living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), Lenore and I have become actively involved in the MND community. We endeavour to offer words of comfort and care to those suffering and their loved ones and carers. It has forced me to face my own feelings in order to bring life to others. And I wonder if, in turn, it has given me back life.
By helping others through their suffering and giving of ourselves, we receive the ability, that is beyond ourselves, to stand in the face of trial.
When we give to others, we are saying, “I have abundance, I have resource that is not based on scarcity.” For me, that abundance is the overflow of God’s love and care for me.
When we do not reach out and care, we start to believe we are bankrupt, we are saying “I give nothing because I have nothing.” The truth is, we have nothing of real value or substance because we choose not to give.
Take gravity for instance. Even though it pushes against us, it is the very force that enables us to stand upright and walk on earth.
When, in the face of the very thing that is pressing against us, we decide to reach out to others, our pain becomes the vehicle for God’s grace to reveal itself in and through us.
Today, I believe that your suffering and brokenness is an opportunity for God to reveal Himself. In the middle of your pain, you can find joy because of how it touches the hearts and lives of others. But only if we choose to give.
When people tell me that my words and story are encouraging them in their lives, all I can say is “thank you.” You see, it does as much for me as it does for them to know that my pain is not in vain, not fruitless or pointless, but has been used to somehow help others.
Einstein said it this way, “only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” Jesus said, “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.
God established how much life is worth by giving His all. When the disease of mankind, sin, separated man from God and asked God how much are we, humanity, worth to Him? His answer was “all of Me”!
Galatians 2:20 says that the life I live now is a life of faith established on the reality that Jesus gave Himself for me and He did it because of His love for me.
In the same way, when we love people, when we give ourselves to them, we establish their value to us. We affirm that they are significant and we are prepared to do whatever it takes for their benefit.
Every day we have the opportunity to be generous with our time, our energy and our resources.
Not only are you doing a good thing when you give of your life for others, but I believe it’s in giving that you experience a personal sense of wellbeing. I also believe you will have a sense that your life is more meaningful as it is attached to greater purpose.
A survey of 2000 people from different socioeconomic backgrounds found that those who volunteered at least 5.8 hours a month and those who gave at least 10% of their income had higher levels of happiness, less depression and had generally better health (Smith and Davidson).
An exchange of generosity and love will in itself have a benefit to both the giver and the receiver.
Next time you give your time, energy or money for the benefit of others, know that in your own way you are laying down your life – and there really is no greater love.
Giving is oxygen. Remember to exhale.