A few years ago, my parents and I talked about a situation that left me feeling as if I had been taken advantage of. You see, one of my greatest attributes is that I love people, but it is also one of my greatest weaknesses. Unfortunately, my love for people leaves me open for those who my parents labeled as, “takers”. According to my parents, “takers” are those who believe as if the world owes them something, and thus they look for what they can get from a situation, not what they can give.
I was raised to use my gifts, my resources, and my life as tools to enrich the lives of others. This premise has served me well. Life has been good to me. Although I have had my share of setbacks and disappointments, I have been abundantly blessed. That said, it still hurts when you feel as if you have been used.
My parents’ message to me was clear, “When you give, know that you give because that is who you are. It really has nothing to do with the recipient; it has to do with you. God will raise people up to reward your generosity. That person may never say thank you. In fact, they probably will curse you when you no longer are their own personal piggy bank, taxi, or babysitter. But it’s not about them, it about you being you; don’t let anyone stop you from being you.”
I never really thought of it in those terms. I mean, I say that it doesn’t matter if someone feels like they are getting over, they won’t get over long. I always called those people “users” but I like the term “takers” better; it is the exact opposite of me – “a giver”. Those people who are “takers” don’t just use us and never give anything back. By that, I don’t mean they fail to repay a debt, but I mean they fail to give the reciprocity that healthy relationships require. Further, if we allow them, they take our joy, our excitement, our dreams, and our compassion. They leave us untrusting, paranoid, unhappy and pessimistic.
When I think of it in those terms, it makes me even more determined to be me and not allow any bricks thrown at me to change who I am. I refuse to give power to those who, whether intentionally or not, seek to “take” the gifts given to me and use them for their own benefit. I will continue to give freely, where I am moved to give and I will say a resounding “No” when the answer is “No”. I will not allow anyone to cause me to second guess my decisions, gifts or contributions. The blessings that God has given me, I am convinced were given to share. By sharing my blessings and lessons I know that God will continue to bless and teach me, because HE knows I will freely share those blessings and lessons.
The whole situation reminds me of a story I heard while in elementary school.
“A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone in the wise woman’s bag, admired it, and asked the wise woman to give it to him. The wise woman did so without hesitation.
The traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the jewel was worth enough to give him security for the rest of his life.
But a few days later he came back, searching for the wise woman. When he found her, he returned the stone and said, ‘I have been thinking. I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back to you in the hope that you can give me something much more precious. If you can, give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.’”