No one is always a giver or always a receiver

As a Hospice volunteer, I often find myself conversing with people who were once Givers and Doers and now need others' help. Changing roles is a difficult adjustment for many to make, and some experience feelings of shame as they contemplate life on the receiving end of kindness. People say, “I don’t want to be a burden on anybody.” Well, no one really wants to be a burden, but by shifting our focus we might be able to see that we can be a gift to others no matter what condition we’re in.

That dependence and independence are shape-shifters, and that no one is always a giver or always a receiver, became clear to me when a dear friend had a stroke.  She’s a can-do, take-charge woman, the true example of the friend, in need, being a friend, indeed. She deplored the idea of being dependent on others until a wise woman we know said, “By accepting their help, you are giving other people the opportunity to show kindness to you, as you’ve always shown to them.”  Or, as a variation on the Golden Rule, “Let others do unto you what you would do unto them.”

Taped to my desk at home is this reminder: “We are all students and teachers to one another, and giving and receiving are the same thing.” FRB program director Bev Abma’s trip notes about her recent visit to our programs in Guatemala illustrate this wisdom for me.

Bev tells of an elderly woman from an FRB program in El Salvador who was participating in a program-to-program learning visit in Guatemala. The woman had known hardship and had received assistance from others. She then became a leader in her community, and now others benefit from her wisdom and experience. This woman chooses to focus on Providence and beauty, and her special gifts of wonder, gratitude and joy infused Bev with a lightness of spirit.
To visit a certain program community, the group in Guatemala had to walk for three hours uphill … and then three hours back down the slope. Bev, accustomed to giving and supporting, was embarrassed to find herself struggling, and to have to accept the offer from a younger group member to carry her backpack for her. It pained her especially because she knew he’d had surgery for a leg injury. At the farewell dinner, the young man assured her that he could see it was easier for him to carry the pack than for Bev. Rather, he was moved by her gift to him: her determination and refusal to give up.  Bev said, “It was a real eye-opener to me once again that life is not about me but about being willing to be used by God in whatever state I am in.”
It’s all a cycle – there are times when we need something, and other times we have something to give. And sometimes the giving and receiving happen in the same act.


written by Laurie Kaniarz, FRB Administrative Coordinator

04/16/2012 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment