A Reciprocal Act of Love
Gail Oliver Cambridge | July 2023
As we go from toddlers, to teens, to adults, we pass through different phases of sharing. A toddler may hang on to a toy and cry buckets of tears when it’s taken away. A teen may be more open to sharing as she or he navigates the friendship years. An adult, well, we should share by rote.
Reflecting on my childhood school days, I recall my girlfriends and me sharing fruits like mangoes, tamarinds, and plums topped with salt and pepper; sweets like fudge, mithai, and grated/chipped sugar cake; cool delights like custard blocks, fluties, and shaved ice with sugary syrups; and many more delicious treats.
Whoever brought the item was in charge of its distribution. That person would hold it near the tip and others would bite off a piece. Of course, the holder would try to keep the largest portion for herself, but some would bite at her finger causing her to release a bigger piece of the tasty delicacy! Wonderful memories.
Sometimes after a squabble with my best friend, I’d take my treat and go someplace to eat alone because I was mad at her and didn’t want to share. Ironically, I never enjoyed it as much as when we were sharing together. Nursing a grudge made the experience less sweet. Can you recall any such moment?
It’s not only the young who keep count of the wrongs others have done them. Even as adults, we sometimes choose to hold on to grievances and deny rather than practice forgiveness and goodwill. For example, even though we know an associate would be the perfect person to lead a project, we don’t suggest him or her because we have a beef with them. And the result? The person in question misses out, the project’s outcome is perhaps not as successful as it might have been, and we ourselves are left feeling mean, and maybe guilty too.
It's sad when we allow personal differences to cause us to withhold information we know could really improve someone’s life or circumstances—such as inside knowledge about the newly available apartment, the mortgage bank offering great rates, the fantastic job opening at our company, or how to go about getting assistance in any number of areas. That information might be as simple as telling someone something is stuck between their teeth, there’s a stain on their shirt, or that their skirt’s stuck up their butt.
Why is this? Why embrace such a negative frame of mind? Why not choose to share? We’re not all selfish or elitist or unfeeling, and while we may experience a fleeting glee at someone’s misfortune, especially if deserving, we can certainly push past our indifference or resentment.
Then there are those of us who are always willing and giving but have a hard time accepting assistance or any form of a gift, this is just as bad! Our reaction may be out of worry of being indebted to others or a burden. However, that’s a form of denial, too, as none of us likes to be receiving endlessly without the ability to return the favor in some manner at some point. Where’s the joy in that? While our differences and unique personalities do come into play in how we relate to one another, our humanity ought to prevail in our interactions.
Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you.” This suggests a two-way street where both parties feel blessed and respected. So, let’s keep on sharing and be gracious in receiving. It’s a reciprocal act of love when we open our hearts in this way.