Can giving really be better than receiving?

 

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Acts 20:35 states that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’.

I’ve always known that giving to others is better than thinking about ourselves and was told from a young age that ‘I want doesn’t get’ in order to stop me becoming overly selfish or spoilt. But whilst I always understood that giving was good because it blessed others, I never fully comprehended how much giving blesses the giver.

In our family Christmas is a time of giving and receiving. When we were younger it was all about getting the presents we wanted, but as we got older, my brothers and I became more excited about giving each other presents we had taken the time to choose. Instead of us all sitting around waiting to be the first to get a present, we wanted to be the first to give a present and to watch the reaction of the person we gave it to once they opened it. However, whilst this sounds like a scene from the Waltons or family Von Trapp, the downside was that the more time, effort and money you had spent on your presents to others, the more of a letdown it was when it wasn’t reciprocated in other people’s presents to you. In other words, the more effort you’d put into your giving, the bigger the feeling of self-entitlement, and the greater the disappointment when the gifts you received weren’t exactly what you wanted.

Giving in this sense was tainted by the future expectation of receiving. But that isn’t what true giving is about. True giving is about putting effort, time, and sometimes money into blessing another, without an expectation of anything in return. A concept that I only fully learnt yesterday.

Yesterday was Valentines Day. A day loved by some and hated by many. Whilst Valentines Day may be a massive gimmick and a completely manufactured over-hyped day of partially forced romantic gestures, it is a day that I believe represents a natural human desire for appreciation. Valentines Day isn’t actually about who gets the biggest teddy bear or the largest bunch of roses, it’s about who is made to feel special and appreciated; because after all, who doesn’t want to be appreciated?! 

My theory is that because Valentines Day is centred around romantic love, the kind between boyfriend and girlfriend or husband and wife, single people often dread it because it not only highlights their single status, but the fact that they do not have anyone to appreciate them. No wonder it’s a crappy day for so many.

 

I completely disagree with the idea that people should only be made to feel special and appreciated on one day of the year. That is so wrong and ridiculous. But, what’s the point in being overly cynical and refusing to take part? Surely any excuse to appreciate someone is a brilliant excuse! 

For the last couple of years I have tried to use Valentines Day as an excuse to bless others. I have made Moonpig cards for housemates, written cards to couples I know that I think are fantastic, and bought little gifts for single friends. This year though, was the best. I made some home-made cards (which really weren’t anything special as I seem to have lost all the creative flair I once had from GCSE Art). I dropped them off at friends houses, met friends for coffee and surprised them with a card, and bought a box of my housemate’s favourite cupcakes as a surprise. 

So what did I learn?

 I learnt that blessing others is SO MUCH FUN. I was so excited to give my housemate those cupcakes and it made me so happy to see the happy faces of my friends when they opened their cards. The people I love and value felt loved and valued, and that in turn made me feel amazing! And because I was so busy spending my day with others and looking outwards, I didn’t have any time to mope around or think about what I was (or wasn’t) getting or receiving. I went to bed last night with a huge smile on my face, not because I had a boyfriend or husband, or my postbox had been overflowing with cards or flowers, but because I had used Valentines Day to give, and had received far more than I had ever expected. 

3 Responses to Can giving really be better than receiving?

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