It seems like a good thing…to give. We are encouraged from birth to be givers and not takers, to reach out and to not expect others to give to us. Yet, there is a false narrative that goes with the “goodness” or “holiness” of giving.
Have you ever experienced unhealthy giving? The kind that says “I’ll do whatever it takes for you to notice me, to love me, to affirm me?”
It’s hard to distinguish at first, a person may be lovely, from outward appearances the situation may seem healthy, but if you step back from the experience, you begin to see patterns that say that giving is a performance, not a practice of sharing . It’s often subtle, but it’s there, a quiet calling for presence, usually of their inner soul that so needs to be loved just as they are….no performance required. No high bar set to be on the “approved” or “admired” list. Often when you look past the dedicated effort, the perfectionistic presence, what you don’t see is the personal isolation. Isolation brings us to that place where the enemy can share all his lies, all his pressure and we become susceptible to his ugliest tricks.
God is the ultimate giver. He gives with expectation. He gives with anticipation of what every father has for his children, hope that in the relationship presence his children’s needs will be met. God is the provider of all of our needs, His job is provision, ours is obedience.
We know that a child given too much is simply not going to mature well. We know that doing for the sake of accomplishment is better than doing for reward. We understand in principle that at times, grace is needed to encourage, that undeserved favor or splendor is a growing tool. However we also know that there are times our children need to know our authority, our love, and our presence without a gift attached but the very gift of our love. We know that ultimately a child must develop the skill of self love, of self nurture of inner locus of control to be solid in their decision making.
In American culture, at least in Southern cultures I’ve been reared in, there has been a generation raised on a false narrative of “doing even when you’re done” having to “keep up appearances” for the sake of business, for the sake of the role of wife or family member. And it is toxic. When we buy into relationship life as a performance, we stop being in touch with what our needs are, what others needs are and control too often becomes the substitute for trusting God that we are as we were created to be. Life becomes a performance not a practice of loving and living. We somehow lose the relationship to ourselves and to others in authentic ways if care is not taken.
Have you seen that in action with entrepreneurs or families? The scenario goes something like this. A blogger or new friend or family member wants to grow something new, they are feeling like the skill they have is somehow lacking. The conversations begin to go to a place of comparison not creating. They see someone else who seemingly “has it all together” or “ connections” and suddenly that becomes the goal. Whatever “that” is. Perfect house. Perfect outfit. Perfect Food. Perfect Outcomes of a Gathering. It takes over their self esteem, fear begins telling them if they don’t do this or that, nothing will be okay. Feelings are pushed down, needs of the person are pushed down, comparative cancer has struck. Hearts forget that most of what is seen on screen is produced to move you to enjoy, learn, or buy….it’s not all what it seems to be.
Living through the screens, that is, basing your perceived view of someone else’s reality on the view you are shown through a screen or video is not the same as having an authentic relationship. We all love to see things beautifully done, I personally was fascinated with how test kitchens develop that perfect shot for a cover of a magazine, very often the shot is of a food that has nothing to do with being food at all, it’s mechanically built to be a great photography image of the cake or table or meal. Did you know?
Life is messy, the process of maturing your gifts, of maturing your faith is a journey. Growing a business is a process…none of it comes without mistakes, of false perceptions and of immature thinking that later you want to say “why did I waste so much time on that…”…it’s part of growing into lovely.
Homelife is much the same. The sizzle reel of many blog posts, Instagram, and Pinterest posts are created to show how on the best days, in the staged situations, a home may look. They may be showing you an item as an affiliate marketer, to encourage you to have what they like, what they do, what they want…there’s nothing wrong with that. But when we substitute their imagery for our own enoughness, it is an issue. Oh it sneaks in for every one, “if I only looked like that”…”If my living room had that…” …”my budget isn’t ever going to be xyz” do you hear it, somehow the beautiful imagery someone is sharing now becomes the tool of the enemy to beat you up…if you let him.
In the best of worlds, we blog, read, and share blogs to inspire, to educate, to edify and to unify someone going through life in the stage, interest, or area we’re interested in. A desire to share, to walk this life out together. But if we are in a place where the inspiration has taken a turn that says “I’m not enough” “This is not enough” “Why am I not xyz” it’s time to remember that we are made in God’s image, that we have within us the miracle of life, of being specifically created to be who and as we are. That our gifts, OUR GIFTS, are present within us and for others. God didn’t hold up this person or that to say “now look here Miss Sweetie, when your carpet is as clean as so and so’s, when your cheese cake is as smooth as such and such, you’ll be approved” “When xyz ad company features YOUR life, you’ll have an ever lasting one”
The best gift is the one that evolves our inner peace. The best schedule is one that maintains our inner peace. The best outcomes are those that are based in reciprocity actions and outcomes that are balanced with wins intended for all. Relationships are the ultimate win. Relationships that grow us, that encourage us, that comfort us…that is the ultimate win. Sitting with someone to talk, to listen, and to know one another more deeply…simply for the sake of being in relationship…no outcomes but fellowship required.
Perhaps we need to let go of some of the popular definitions of success and realize that the best success is the practice of being at peace with ourselves, ever growing in our awareness of what that looks like….to be in relationship with the Creator who made us, time with Him and time with ourselves, our needs, and the Word can greatly multiply that…no approval to join required.