“The catch with giving is that one expects something in return.”
I listened to the observation with a smile forming in the back of my mind. I tried my best not to let it show, wanting to let the observation sit without adding more to his sense of loss. He expected a thank-you. He assumed that he would be able to observe gratitude. He was looking for some form of formal acknowledgement. What he received was nothing other than a courteous “I have it” response.
A gift, given without reservation, accepted and put to use. It was the beginning and end of the story, at least from the receiver’s perspective.
I would see the wheels turning, forcing me back to old memories long forgotten. I remembered different times when my emotions boiled over because a gift was not acknowledged, appreciated, and at times used. I expected more. I assumed that something given in mercy would be noted with thanks, used with appreciation, and recognized for its value. Emotionally it felt as if “they pay me back misery for mercy, leaving my soul empty.” (Psalm 35.12)
“Don’t they appreciate it?”
“Yes, I think they do.”
“Then, why no acknowledgement.”
“Before we go there, can I ask you a question? Why do you give?”
The conversation stopped before it began. Whatever was going to be said was not. My colleague turned and looked silently. “I thought I knew. I am not so sure I do.”
I would be the last one to suggest that I always get it right. In my best dreams, I imagine myself giving without conditions or expectations. I know it is the right way to give but there are times where I cannot help myself. I expect a thank-you. I assume some form of appreciation. Most of all, I am hurt if it is not used.
As I watched, I again experienced the wonder and mystery of unconditional gifts in my life. I may not always see them. Occasionally I do not immediately use them. I do know that in receiving I am changed.