The Relativity Of “Giving”

“Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen

I know that at times it seems like “giving myself to others”–my time, my talents, my abilities–is an incredibly difficult task, especially if I see others who give incredible amounts of their time and energy to others, or give what I would consider large sums of wealth. It is easy for me to feel that there is no possible way I could measure up to such a standard of giving. But I am wrong here, for there are so many ways to give, and other factors that are at play here. More importantly, though, is that if I use this as a reason not to give, I risk postponing, or even completely missing out on my “greatest fulfillment” in life.

Most of us may know someone who seems to be everywhere and involved in everything, sharing themselves in some unique and selfless way. Of course, if we try to compare ourselves to such individuals, we may feel that our giving and our service could never contribute in such a way. That is not the case, though. I am an a position in my life right now where I cannot contribute as much of my time as others can, for I have children who need me at home and in their lives. I should not expect myself to be able to give as much time as someone whose children have left the home, or someone who is unattached, or someone who has more free time in general. Similarly, I should not expect myself to give more than what I can afford financially as well, for I have a family to feed, to clothe, and to educate.

It is important to give–it is how we find fulfillment in life. But it is important that we recognize our limits, and give within our means. This discernment is key to reaching a balance that allows us to find and keep happiness in our lives.

Find areas in your life in which you are able to give. If we are to find any sort of purpose, happiness, or fulfillment in life, we must give of ourselves. The amount can be small, the amount can be large–as long as your contribution is from the heart… it is more than worthy.

Give of yourself to others, within your ability.

Questions to consider:

Have you ever compared yourself to someone else and found that you came up lacking somehow? Was it a fair comparison?

In what areas can you start to give without affecting the areas to which you currently give? How can you start?

Why is it that in society’s eyes, donating time to a charity somehow seems more worthy than spending that same time with our own children or siblings or parents? Is this truly the case?

For further thought:

“Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.” – Anthony Robbins


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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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