The line Saturday morning was long and jumbled and talkative.
Each person was waiting to receive their free teal bag. It contained a carefully-loaded gift of meat and vegetables and dessert, enough to cook a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner for their family this Thursday.
I walked through the crowd and said hello here and there, looking for someone who wanted to talk.
I saw a friend and stopped. We chatted about the autumn weather finally arriving.
Then she told me what she often tells me, “Thank you so much for what y’all are doing. It makes such a big difference to us.”
I gave my standard reply, “We’re just passing it along as God gives it. We’re glad to do it.”
And it’s true. God gives to us so we can enjoy giving to others.
But more is true.
I said it to her. I needed to hear it again myself. It is this:
None of us know when it will be our turn to be on the receiving end.
None of us are above it.
None of us are below it.
We like to think, “It’ll never be me.” After all, we plan and save and prepare for such surprises. I’ll always be on this side of the line, we think, never the other.
But if we’ve ever seen (or been) someone devastated by a job loss or a health catastrophe or a financial crumble, we know that, yes, it could be us.
And in many ways it has already been us, it is us now, and it will be us again.
Give and take is a dance. It’s an art form of rhythm and movement, of story and liturgy, of back and forth.
Sometimes we give.
Sometimes we take.
We’re not better people because we give.
We’re not worse people because we take.
We all do a little of both in every season of our lives, in various ways, and in differing degrees.
Let none of us think we’re always a giver. Or always a taker. We’re all some of both. Because that’s how God designed community to work.
If we participate in this dance with grace and partners and intention, it’s a beautiful waltz to behold.
Notice this Thanksgiving week how you dance back and forth between giving and receiving, between offering and accepting, between handing out and taking in.
And whichever side you fall on in this moment, say thanks. Thankful to be able to give. Thankful to be able to receive.
My friend and I ended our conversation in agreement:
When we have, we give.
And when we need, we receive.
There should be no pride or shame on either end.
Let’s be grateful in it all.
* * *
- Don’t Just Give: Receive – She said she had something to give me; now I want to keep it growing.
- God Sends No One Alone – All the kindergarteners were enjoying their parents’ attention today, except for this little boy.
- It Matters If You Win, Too – It has to matter to us that it’s also about others.
How will you give this week? How will you receive? Please share in the comments.
- How to Love That Other Number on the Enneagram (All Nine Types)
- Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age – Book Review