This is the season of giving, but it is interesting that for many of us giving is so much easier than receiving on all levels, physically, emotionally and psychologically. I am a perfect example and maybe it is because of what I do, being in the helping profession. I find it so much easier to give with all my heart, no strings attached, than to receive. I am trying to learn to receive with grace because I think it is as important to be able to receive, whether in the form of love, compliments, advice, medical help, financial help or physical help as it is to give.
The healthiest communities are those where people are able to give and receive without any stigma attached, without any power dynamics where the giver is more powerful than the receiver and no guilt on the part of the receiver. As long as the receiver is not made to feel inferior or made weaker by the power dynamics involved in giving and receiving, it is healthy. I see this type of dynamic in the poor communities we work with in South Africa. When I have brought the subject up, I have been told that we are all interconnected, it is part of Ubuntu. When you receive in African cultures, you are receiving not only from a person, but from the “spirits” as well and the “spirits” are a plentiful source, there is more than enough for everyone. So people feel grateful, not guilty…very different to how we see it in the West. Life is about giving and receiving, so hopefully this season we all can give and receive and do both gracefully.