"Give, always give what you can even if your allies draw lines in the sand." Ever since I heard the song "Love Letters to God" by Nahko and Medicine for the People I have tried to live by this line. It is difficult to do sometimes, but so impactful on others lives.
When I hear that line I think of my aunt. She tirelessly provides love, attention, and time to her kids. She would move mountains to get them what they need. She sits with her children for hours, even if it means staying up all night, talking about anything that's on their mind or even just doing homework. She would stand in front of any judge to defend her children's rights. She spends every last penny on their happiness and well-being to the point she has denied herself the medical attention she needs. She uses every breath in her body to help move them forward in life even if it means her life is stagnant. She would take a bullet for them without any hesitation and I doubt she's ever considered anything else. This woman is the epitome of selflessness. I have never met someone more dedicated to anything in my entire life. I don't think it's ever crossed her mind to give anything less than the world to her kids.
I respect the hell out of my aunt for that kind of bottomless love. It's more than just love, though. There are no words in any language to describe the intense devotion my aunt has for her children. If I could be even half of what she is I would be satisfied.
That doesn't mean she has endless time or money or energy. She does have her boundaries. Sometimes she simply does not have the money to buy them the new cell phone they want. Sometimes she needs a break from all the pressure and chaos that kids of any age can be. But she knows what her limits are and will give to very tip of them. I know she would go light years beyond those limits if she could.
This is what giving should look like. Selfless. Loving. It shouldn't be done because someone said to or because it'll make you look "good." Giving out of pity or for fame is not really giving. It's just donating. While donating canned goods and your old clothes you don't need is good - others need those things.
But when you are on the phone with someone who is crying over their breakup, don't be watching TV and providing one-word responses. Multi-tasking is not listening. Imagine you're the one with a broken heart and all your friend can say is "that sucks" or "there's plenty of fish in the sea" while they watch the next episode of the Bachelor. How would that make you feel? Angry? Sad? Unimportant? Wounded? Yeah, probably. If this has ever happened to you, I recommend finding a new friend.
Giving your time and attention to someone when they're having a crisis is so meaningful to them. It shows that you support and care about them. Sometimes all someone needs is a shoulder to cry on without their problems being fixed. An open ear can be way more helpful than any advice. Knowing someone loves and values you, soothes and heals like nothing else.
All of this may sound cliche like "treat others how you want to be treated." But that is not the message I am trying to deliver. Why stop at doing things you want done to you? Do more than what you expect from others. Be better than everyone else by offering everything you can to others. Love simply to love.
At this point you might be tempted to think one of two things: "Psh, I already do this" or "this sounds easy, I got this."
Tell me, the last time you were called a "bitch" or a "dick" by someone you trust, how did you react? Did you insult them back? Did you say or do anything out of anger?
Or did you say, "I'm sorry you feel that way about me?" THAT is doing more than what you expect from others. By controlling your emotions and not reacting with hate you are being the better person.
There is a bible verse that I read anytime I know I'm going into a difficult conversation. "You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." Matthew 5:38-41
It's funny because just a few verses later Jesus basically says that God will take revenge for you. It doesn't matter what you believe, that is good advice. Karma, God, Allah, whatever supreme being or force you believe in will always be able to punish those who wrong you more than you ever could. By being kind you are handing over their fate to the powers that be to justly give the retribution the other person deserves.
It's not easy though. People can be cruel. Strangers you've never met may try to curse and mock you. The internet is the easiest place to do this. Anonymity is the perfect cover for cyber bullies. The next time an internet troll tries taunts you, picture them as the bridge troll from Dora and have a laugh before closing out of whatever tab you were in.
It gets harder when dealing with friends and family. The ones we love the most are the only ones with the power to hurt us the most - they know your weak spots and when angered will strike there first. When your closest friends betray you, the pain is almost unbearable. You made yourself vulnerable to them and they used that vulnerability to get what they want.
But you have to keep giving anyway. When someone rants at me for a long time my favorite answer to give is "Ok. Anything else you would like to share?" That usually shuts people up pretty good.
I'm not going to pretend I do all of what I've said all the time. I don't. I'm lucky if I do it a quarter of the time. But I keep trying. It's a work-in-progress for me. I strive to give more every day, even on the hard days and especially when I don't feel like it or am feeling offended. Those are the best times to practice.
I encourage you to go through your day with an open mind and an open heart. Seek out situations you can give in. If you like someone's outfit, don't be shy, tell them! Ask where they got those amazing shoes. Always be on the lookout for where someone needs a little help and give more than what they're looking for. Give your attention to those who you don't think deserve it - they're the ones that need it the most.
Finally, be kind and loving in everything you say and do. Just as those who wrong you will be punished or transformed, the blessings and compassion you pour onto others will come back to you.