Remember that time you donated a sweater to that clothing drive? Or the time you brought soup to your sick friend? Why did you do it? Did you give because you wanted to help someone? Maybe that’s why you said you gave. But didn’t giving also make you feel good? Didn’t donating a sweater making you feel righteous? Didn’t bringing soup to your friend reassure your confidence that you are in fact a good friend? And won’t your sick friend now owe you a favor in return?
The truth is, as I see it, that more often than not when we give, we get something in return. Sometimes it’s the pride that we helped out in a cause, and sometimes it’s bragging rights that we were there to help. Sometimes giving is actually selfish. When my friend needed a job after college, and was looking in several cities, did I help find her jobs in New York so she could find work faster? Or did I do it to make sure she would stay in New York, close to me? Was I really giving her my time and effort to make sure she was better off, or was I doing it to make sure I was better off, keeping my best friend close by?
Do you ever give to your friends to keep them close? Maybe not physically close, but emotionally. Or do you ever give to them so they will want to give back? Or do you truly give because you love them?
I think sometimes it is hard to figure out why I give when I do. Am I really thinking about what is best for the other person, or am I thinking of what is best for me? Am I really helping my friend by helping her find a job in New York, when maybe the best place for her is San Francisco? Maybe it’s Chicago. Or maybe it’s simply just not New York.
I hope I can learn to be a more selfless giver. I wonder how removing myself from my giving will change the way I give.