A friend of mine made a post on Facebook that incorporated this meme:
I found it interesting and thought provoking, as I had just engaged in this conversation in class the night before. We had been assigned the book The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. In a nutshell, the book is a feel good surface-level parable about bringing excellence to every situation. My personal feeling about it was that it read quite trite, the kind of thing a a wealthy white man can get way with publishing because of his “accomplishments” (in quotes because what majority culture calls an accomplishment often occurs at the hands of the people we never see working for and around the supposed star). The lessons and things that parents instill in kids, and churches in congregations, and therapists in clients have been smooshed down to this babified coding of often times challenging and complex conversations that should happen over time and with intentionality.
If you couldn’t tell, I ain’t like it.
Me being me, during class I pointed out how CEOs and other people in high paying positions love this oversimplified thinking because they secretly feel entitled to unpaid labor. This is why teachers are quitting, burning out, and sad—because their natural proclivity is to step in and chip in, to the detriment of their personal lives and wellbeing.
But you know I ain’t leave it there. Cuz me being me…
I then expressed to them my faith, in which this ideology is considered “REASONABLE SERVICE” (who is my neighbor?). So we had to talk about how self sacrifice (cuz that’s what this is—demonstrated love—must be INTENTIONAL.
When people (including myself) begin to experience burnout—or really resentment—I have begun to issue the challenge, “Are your boundaries being breached?” I ask this of myself in particular because I’ve learned all the wrong ways to love. I have been without boundaries and without voice, losing myself in swirls of people pleasing and bouts of depression brought on by not feeling heard or seen or wanted or loved in return… it’s a cycle that it devastating, destabilizing, and destructive—not to mention leaving me frozen, stuck in place.
Let’s go back to the scripture.
The principles of God don’t change. No matter how we try to work around them or don’t bother to learn them. In regards to giving, though, the word is clear: however you give and however much you give will be given to you. Good or bad. Kind or cruel. Generously or Stingy. Like literally the Jesus version of : KEEP THAT SAME ENERGY, ya feel me?
Therefore: if we are giving out but not seeing the result of giving found in the scripture, we must check our motives. We have to check our hearts, our reason. Where have we deceived ourselves? Are we refusing receipt of the return because it didn’t come from the same person we gave it to? Is there fear of what will happen if we don’t give? See, lookaherr: The need for validation or approval or appreciation or expansion or elevation has to be crucified daily, along with the urge to be seen as perfect and the desire to avoid the complexities of your own life. Clean hands come out of a pureness of heart—not the “pure mess” of one!
Long story short? Is it true love that drives you? Do you have ANY BOUNDARIES? Or are you giving out of your trauma? Because people who love themselves don’t give until they are broken… they give because giving is the appropriate response to the need before them. That’s the love response. Nothing more, nothing less.
You gotta know where your landmark is—what’s the boundary? Give. Give sacrificially. But give wisely. You cannot love your neighbor with a love you do not have for yourself. And giving under the guise of building your self image up will always end in the rubble of resentment and the open wound of offense.