Our first gift is life, our mothers “giving birth.” Then, as helpless, tiny people, we do nothing but receive every day. We do not even know what giving is, for years.
Then a glimmer of sharing, (food with the dog, or toys with another baby), gives us the first clue that we are not the only person in the world.
How scary, we might lose what we have. The idea of “yours,” and “mine,” “have,” and “not have” dawns on us. Then we learn to hold and withhold from others for our own sake. It is all about “me, myself, & I.”
Greed is natural, inborn, survival, fear instinct. Most of us rise above these automatic emotions once we find abundance. Some people find balance between “thee & me” based on what we really need and the gifts we can give. Some people never get over it. Those are grim misers without love, because they see everything, material, emotional, and spiritual as limited “possessions,” to own or lose; to hoard.
Love opens our hearts, and forgets about hoarding in exchange for fervent mutual giving of ourselves to others, with receiving, a byproduct. The purest form of love is grace. Grace is not an exchange, it is not earned, or deserved; it is generous, unreserved, unconditional, unlimited openness, acceptance, forgiveness, caring, and affection. Grace is what we received as babies. Can we generate grace as adults? Not without a way to experience it. Where can we do this?
The road from cherished baby to self-sufficient adult is fraught with naïve mistakes, unfortunate accidents, painful losses, unrequited love, disappointing lessons, potholes of betrayal, detours of deceit, and dead-end dreams. How to navigate life’s path, with courage, endure the hardships, withstand the evil, grow strong, prosper, and still be able to love and receive love, to be gracious and receive grace, is the challenge.
Christians have a perfect example.