This is a difficult topic for me. I’ve lived most of my life with an underlying attitude of fear, believing I have to hold my treasures close so that I don’t lose them. I’m not talking only about material possessions, but less tangible things such as time, energy, and selfhood. I’m afraid of losing the very essence of who I am if I share myself with others. I’ve spent most of my life refusing to give myself away.
Yet the paradox is that giving ourselves away is the only way to find the true security that comes from living in God’s grace. “For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life,” as St. Francis says in the lovely prayer attributed to him.
It is by opening my heart and living in an attitude of generosity — giving myself away — that I connect with the love of God I most deeply desire. And then I know the truth of that love — that it always has been here, that it always will, that I have everything I need and more than enough to share with others. “Love never ends” (1 Cor 13:8a).
I’m working on growing into that understanding, working on meeting others with an attitude of generosity rather than withholding. Opening my heart to what other people have to give me, trusting that I have something of value to offer in return. Trusting that what I value most will not be lost in the giving, but will come back to me a hundredfold.
How do you give yourself away? In what ways do you withhold yourself? How might you practice an attitude of generosity?