I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately. It’s a thing. I think about how being seen and known, feeling safe and free, being trusted and trusting, all add up to something healthy. At least that’s the way the math works in my mind. And then a thought about the balance of relationships comes into my mind. “There should be a give and take,” I’ve heard people say.
There has come to be a small voice in my mind that gets very angry at that phrase. When I first began to feel unsettled about this phrase I gave myself a minute. I thought about the meaning of the words. What’s the problem with give and take?
My small voice was okay with the pursuit of balance, healthy caring coming from both parties that are relating to each other. It was even okay with the giving part of this particular solution, but not the taking.
What’s the problem with taking?
Let’s imagine ourselves for a moment in the act of giving. Feel the wonderful outpouring of the gifts of time, space, provision, and whatever else we like to give to others. Don’t worry about how the giving is received just yet. Just sit with the act of giving, the generosity of spirit, the feeling of having more than enough and sharing the abundance.
Now let’s imagine ourselves in the act of taking. We reach for something and grab it. We might not even know if it’s ours or not. Taking is the same action that could lead to theft. Consider, too, the quid pro quo in relationships. We find ourselves having given, and now look for the opportunity to take (maybe even holding back our giving until we feel we’ve taken enough to balance our own equation). That doesn’t feel right.
In our culture today there is a lot of language around claiming space, taking time, etc. People will say that you have to take what’s yours because no one is going to give it to you. I’ve found that idea to be correct in the market culture, but detrimental to relationships. The market is transactional. Give (payment) and take (reward), or take (reward) then give (payment). Relationships aren’t – or at least they shouldn’t be. In the healthiest relationships there is a giving and given. We give and we are given unto. There is no payback needed for what we’ve received when there is Love. It was given, not taken. Love doesn’t account for all its given. The giving is a gift. It is not the reward for a particular payment we’ve made. There is no debt.
Rather, the practice of giving and the recognition of the multitude of gifts received (counting all the small ones helps), leads to a generosity of spirit through abundance. It’s born of being literally full and having no more place for any gifts. Then we have to give.