Give so you can get something better

“Give so you can receive” is a thought I had during the Christmas gift-choosing and gift-buying and gift-wrapping and gift-giving period last week but I wanted to think about it before I wrote. Why do we give? For Christians, we give because we recognize that God gave to us and if we want to be like Him, we also have to give – of ourselves – to others. And even for people who are not Christians, we have to give to others whether we like it or not. Wherever you live, the government decides how much of what you make is given to others in the form of taxes – to build and maintain social programs and infrastructure. So we all give, some more than others, some with a cheerful heart, some grudgingly, but we ALL need to give.

I think about something my grandmother used to say all the time when I was growing up, “The more you give, the more you get!” My grandmother (actually both my grandmothers were like this but I am writing about my mother’s mother) gave a portion of everything she got. When I was younger, I thought that she gave because she was confident in her support system and knew that she would never be in need so she could give it all away. But when I got a little older, I realized that she gave regardless. She gave because she knew that she HAD to give so she could get more, but not more of the same, she gave because she knew she had to give so she could get something better. This was one of the true epiphanies of my life. Give so you can get something better! 

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I experienced this with my friend and his daughter. He wanted to teach her about giving freely so he encouraged her to give away her Nintendo DS and she did. And it was a true sacrifice because she loved that thing as much as it is possible to love an inanimate object. But she gave it away without a real promise of a replacement. But when he saw that she was willing to sacrifice her favorite toy, he gave her a better one.

Give so YOU can get something better! You’ve probably heard about the open-hand concept. If your hands are tightly clenched around something you are holding, you can’t receive anything else. Because you can’t place anything in a tightly clenched fist, you need to have an open palm with which to grasp your new gift.

GIVE so you can get something better! My parents give. When I was a kid, I struggled with their generosity because I wondered if with all the giving, that someday they would give me away too. They didn’t, but they are still giving and the more they give, the more they receive. Give so you can get something better!

What do you want to get in 2014? Chances are you already have something in your life that resembles the thing you want. Maybe you just need to give away the thing you have so you can get something better, the thing you really want. I am not suggesting that you give away all your used clothes and expect a fur coat in return. No! Give of your best so you can get something phenomenal in return. I’ll take phenomenal over best anytime.

1. Do you have a talent that you aren’t using? Give it to your church or local group! How do you give your talent? By using it. The more you give one talent, the more another will develop. If you give your writing talent by writing announcements for your local church, you will develop your creativity. Voila, second talent developed. Give your musical talent by teaching a young kid the basics of piano or flute or violin. It will hone your patience and creative teaching skills and organizational ability. Voila, second, third and fourth talents discovered.

2. Do you have some spare change? If you live in a city like New York, this is probably a request you hear several times every day. But how often can you honor those requests? You can’t respond to everyone. But you can give what you have. I don’t like giving money to strangers on the train. In fact, it’s illegal to solicit on the trains so I don’t want to take any part of that, but you can give money to charities that help people who are down on their luck. You can give food to someone who seems hungry. As a closet fatty, I usually have some kind of food in my purse. You probably travel with candy or snack bars too. It wouldn’t hurt to give some food to someone who says they are hungry. And because in America, we are never too far away from our next meal, you probably won’t miss the food you gave away. And it won’t feel like a sacrifice when you’ve given it, because the idea that you’ve helped someone will make you feel incredible. So incredible, that you might become addicted to giving, just for that feeling you get in return.

3. Give to make room for more.

Focus not on what you are losing but on what you are gaining. When I did the Daniel’s Diet a couple years ago, and several times since when I have done vegetarian or vegan runs, my friends always ask me about all the foods I can’t eat. I always encourage them to shift the focus from what I can’t eat to what I can. Because embracing a diet plan is not about restriction. Yes, there are things you want to avoid but if you focus more on the wonderful things you are having instead, it feels more like a treat than a sacrifice. Yes I could focus on the fact that when I am doing a vegetarian diet that I can’t have meat. But how about considering that instead, the awesome fruit and vegetable smoothies that are usually expensive $10-a-pop rare treats from Jamba Juice, now that treat IS my lunch. Worth it!

When I fill my house with STUFF, because as a West Indian, saving things (read hoarding) is a part of my genetic makeup, I can’t have that nouveau chic empty-room look that is all the rave these days. Sometimes, I need to repurpose and regift so I can make room, literally, for the look I want.

And when I shift the context of that statement from real estate to my physical house, my body, sometimes I have to use some of what I have before I add more – use up my energy before I eat again so I am not carrying around excess energy stores (read, excess pounds). Give so I can get something better. Use up some energy so I can feel stronger and fitter. Give up that extra serving of stuffing so I can feel more satisfied with my diet plan AFTER the meal is over. Give up the temporary satisfaction that I get from eating the extra slice of cake so that I can get a better, more permanent satisfaction, the feeling I have AFTER the meal is over and my stomach isn’t begging me to loosen my belt, the feeling I will have when I step on the scale tomorrow and realize even with all the festivities, I didn’t gain any extra weight.

You have to give so you can get something better. Give up single-living so you can experience the joy of belonging to a family. Give up the nights out so you can be a mom. Give up sleeping in on weekends so you can volunteer at Pathfinders or Boys Scouts.

All throughout our lives, we make decisions. Decisions for now or decisions for later. Happiness now or happiness later.  Temporary satisfaction or delayed gratification.

Today, my encouragement is that we all have to make room in our lives for the things we want.

Give up something you have so you can get something better!

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