Thursday, December 30, 2010

Senator Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches # 1229

  Giving is powerful. I write this partly because we say that this is the season to give. However, I write to say that every season is the season to give. Every day in every season is a time to give.

  Some of us know how to give but don’t know how to receive. Too many of us know how to receive but don’t know how to give. The real challenge is to give and receive with equal facility for they are truly bound together.

  When I was a child I did not really know how to give or receive. I was bad at both. Then I learned to give but did not learn to receive. I still work on the receiving.

  When we really receive, we give the gift of giving to others. When we do not really receive, we deny others the gift of giving. We give when we receive with grace and appreciation. Giving is powerful.

  Sometimes I will do something for someone and they will say, “You didn’t have to do that.” I will reply, “It’s a gift. It would not be a gift if I had to do it. It would be an obligation or duty.”

  We can make giving more powerful for ourselves and others when we don’t expect a gift. When we expect a gift, we reduce the power of giving. Expectations turn gifts into obligations. Feeling entitled is the worst form of expectation. We de-power the very gift we receive. I know it’s hard but we can make giving more powerful by reducing our expectations. We give best by ceasing to expect, ceasing to feel entitled.

  How do we receive? Are we always thankful? Are we always appreciative? If the gift we receive is not what we want or need, are we thankful for the thought behind the gift? Do we miss the gift in the giving because we circumscribed the gift with our expectations, our focus, our limitations?

  Sometimes people ask me how am I doing and I say, “I’m blessed. My cup runneth over.” Then I will say, “I try to keep my cup small so it will run over easy.” Our ever present cup is our expectations. We receive more gifts as we expect less.

  When we expect or hope for something in return for a gift, it ceases to be a gift and becomes an investment. We must learn to give without expectations so we can truly give and others can truly receive. Giving is powerful.

  Who we give to says something about our giving. If we give mostly to those we think can help us sometimes in the future, we are usually making an investment, not giving a gift. If we give mostly to those who have plenty, then the gift of giving is diminished. If we give mostly to those who have status, we may well be trying to impress and therefore investing. True giving is based upon needs.

  Every one of us has something to give no matter how poor or powerless or seemingly insignificant. Everyone of us need something, no matter how rich or powerful or famous. The reason we miss so many opportunities to give is because we focus on wants and desires rather than needs. We also focus on material things. To some, it is not a gift if it is not material.

  Sometimes a good word is just the gift needed. Sometimes a pat on the back or a warm smile or a listening ear or a phone call is just the thing needed at that moment. I think hugs are special gifts. I give hugs because they are therapeutic. Sometimes people don’t know what they really need. Oftentimes I have given hugs and someone will say, “Thank you, I needed that.” Hugs are gifts to others but when they hug back, they gift me.

  As Christmas draws near, giving is very much on my mind. My first thoughts were about material things I could give. That was hard because I have an aversion to shopping. I then asked myself, “What do the people I love really need?” I also asked, “What can I give that is not necessarily material in nature?” I found out that I had a lot to give. I believe that you have a lot to give that you have not thought about.

  I want each of us to give our best whether material, emotional, physical or spiritual. I want each of us to give what is needed, not what is wanted. I want each of us to allow each other to give. I want each of us to reduce our expectations so that we can be truly thankful for the gifts we receive. I want each of us to know that we have a lot to give. I want each of us to know that giving is powerful and we control the gift.

EPILOGUE – We have the power to define. It is so powerful. We can define our giving and our receiving so that each becomes more powerful. It’s all in the mind.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents the 23rd Senate District in Alabama.

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