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Where's My Bag?

Many years ago, I found myself in a beautiful town in the San Francisco Bay Area for a year-long residential internship. I had long wanted to live in the Bay Area, and having just completed two years of running a clinic in the arctic of Alaska, I had a little nest egg of savings and felt as free as a bird. Everything I owned fit neatly into my trusty Honda Civic.

I quickly located a small Korean church where I made some wonderful friends and found ways to be useful. I had spent much of my free time in Alaska reading through a small mountain of self help books, and felt like I was almost floating around with peaceful energy, looking to be of service and show compassion wherever I could.

There was one family at the church that I felt especially moved to help. I decided that the best way would be to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and leave them on their porch every Friday. I did this anonymously for a few weeks, and even after they caught me delivering a few cases of food one Friday afternoon, I continued with it because they expressed thanks and didn't seem to feel awkward about me wanting to help.

After completing my residential internship, I moved back to Toronto, and several months later, I heard from this family. The mother explained that they had moved to another town and were in desperate need of a house. In short, she asked if I could "lend" her $10,000 for a down payment.

The reality was that I didn't have that kind of money to lend to anyone. But more than anything else, I was disappointed by her request. Her and her husband were able-bodied people who, in my eyes, were capable of providing for their two children. If they couldn't afford to purchase a home, they could certainly earn enough to rent adequate housing for their family.

I turned them down gently and apologetically, as I had no interest in making them feel ashamed. But I turned them down after thinking things through and deciding that they were looking to take advantage of me. Being a young doctor who eagerly helped their family when I was out in California, I guess she assumed that I had plenty of money and would jump to send her some funds.

Also during my time in California, I met a visiting student from Korea who had a wonderful energy about her. In getting to know this student over a few months, I discovered that she desperately wanted to stay in the area for another half year to continue with her language studies. Because I was still in the mindset of wanting to be of service wherever I could, I impulsively concocted an unlikely story about having found a scholarship for her through a friend of mine back east. I even had her read a couple of books (on natural health, of course) and write essays on them as a part of the application that I whipped up to keep my financial involvement anonymous.

When her extra six months of study were almost up, she nonchalantly asked me to help her book her return flight home, as she didn't have a credit card. I did this with a bit of a sinking feeling in my heart, as I suspected that she didn't intend to pay for her ticket. Unfortunately, my instinct was correct, and being one to shy away from confrontation at all costs, I didn't say a word. I did, however, decide that I would never again so easily help a non-family member with a large sum of money.

Here's the thing: it took these and a few other similar experiences as a young adult for me to really understand the following Korean proverb:


When you save someone from drowning, he'll ask you why you didn't save his bag as well.

Meaning, with some people, when you help them, they'll ask for more help.

Sadly, my experience has been that there are some people in our world who truly don't mind taking advantage of others. Does this seem obvious to you? If so, then good - I'm glad you already know this. Because it wasn't obvious to me when I walked on youthful clouds of idealism, and was looking to give, give and then give some more.

It's a life lesson that they don't teach in public school. Decent people rarely ask for help, even when they desperately need it. They'll grind themselves to a nub trying to take care of themselves. They'll wash dishes and do away with all unnecessary expenses in their lives before they ask for charity.

If you reach out and find a way to have decent people accept some assistance, they'll find a way to make sure that you understand what your action means to them. And it's almost never just in words because words don't mean much a lot of the time.

Let me be clear in stating that I earnestly believe in being giving and generous. I'm just smarter about it now than I was in my mid-twenties. I've learned that whenever possible, it's best to give anonymously, and of course, only to those who clearly want to help themselves and be self sufficient.

To give generously of our time, talents, and money is to bless ourselves along with the recipients of our gifts - this is no secret. But I firmly believe that we must learn to be discerning in how we give and who we give to. Ultimately, we are stewards of all that we temporarily own, and a good steward is careful in making decisions on how resources under his or her care are used.

These are life lessons on giving that I plan on sharing with our boys when they're a bit older. When that time comes, I'll start by letting them know that if they decide to help someone, they should be prepared to fetch that someone's bag out of the water. :)

How about you? If you have thoughts on giving that you've passed on or plan to pass on to your children and grandchildren, please consider sharing them with the rest of us in the comments section below. Thank you.

 
 

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Comments

Thanks for this article. I've had trouble with this all my life - playing rescuer - and have similar stories to you.

I think it's important to understand the other person's viewpoint though. Imagine: I'm really poor, I can't even imagine having enough money to give away, and here's someone giving me money! Wow, they must have a LOT! And they don't seem to want anything back for it! I don't understand that, but they tell me they're really happy to do it, and don't want anything back for it. Great! Someone's finally helping me!

So then, down the track, when they need help again, of course they're going to ask. It's only logical. They're not "looking to take advantage". They're just looking to repeat previous experience. How can they know what amounts are "acceptable" to ask for? You/I didn't tell them what our limits were.

They simply don't have the life-experience (of being in a position to help) to understand your position or your thinking, to be aware that it actually DID cost you to do it. Especially if you're telling them it didn't :)

I guess I used to bend over backwards trying to make them feel comfortable about it, saying "no no, it's FINE! I've got plenty! Don't worry about it!" - I don't do that any more because it perpetuates that misunderstanding.

So I've actually found it better, when I give these days, to be really honest with the other person: that I'm giving because I believe in equality and sharing, and I have more than they do, but it *IS* costing me to do so.

cheers,
Julie

My mother once told me, "Don't lend money to anyone. If they can't pay you back, you will have lost both the money, and the relationship with this person. If they use the money for something frivolous, you will be resentful, and feel duped. Either give it to them with no strings if it's not a problem for you, or just say, look you want $1000, I can only spare $100. If 10 people give you $100 you will have your $1000. Or if you are tapped out, just tell them you can't do it."

Now that times are hard, I've been approached with requests for money in the form of loans that I know can't be paid back by the person. It causes a lot of strain, and they often don't talk to me for a while.

I've struggled with this issue too. I live in a big city and almost every day someone will walk by my car with a sign asking for money. I feel unsafe opening my car window to a stranger, and I don't know if the money is really going to go towards food and shelter. Once a nicely-dressed women came to my door asking for gas money so she could get to the hospital, and promised me she would pay me back. I gave her $20 and never saw her again, and read a warning in the local paper a few weeks later that she was doing this all over the neighborhood. (I later learned that the best response is to offer to summon the police to come and help; if the person is lying they'll disappear quickly and if there really is an emergency the police will help them.) There's a saying I like: "You can give away your light, but don't give away your oil."

Julie,
I agree with and appreciate your perspective. It is easy to project on others that they are trying to take advantage of you when I would argue that is it not our own ego (and presumption that they "needed" help) that helps them when they did not originally ask? I would also add that these people need to be taught skills and given helpful perspectives to assist them moving out of their predicament, not just money. Giving money doesn't really empower anyone to learn to do things any differently. Of course, there are legitimate situations to give to, but I challenge you to honestly examine your motivations when doing so. This seems to clear up which things make sense to give to and which don't.

Alicia

PS - I love organizations like Heifer International that empower people to become self-sufficient by the gift of animals and the skills to raise them.

I think this is an excellent article and am glad to finally read someone else's experiences (including comments) concerning this. I too have run into the people who are not afraid to ask for money and help over and over and over and over again.

For me it started happening with pan handlers on the street. I believed (and still do) that God wants me to give when help is requested. With strangers on the street you really have no way of knowing what the money will be used for, so, I feel it is my responsibility to give as the Lord has told me in my heart, to everyone who asks. What they do with it is between them and God.

When I was working and earning a good living I had no problem with this and I was generous. I often would give more than they asked for. If they requested a quarter, I might give them a dollar. If they requested a dollar, I might give them two.

There was a period of time that I would get a roll of quarters to keep in my pocket and as I walked down the street the street people would always ask for a quarter so I would hand them out all along the route I walked to work. Then the city fathers "cleaned up" the streets because there were so many complaints about the pan handling. I kind of missed the fun of passing out the quarters and remained open to being helpful to the street people when I saw them but they just seemed to disappear.

It did seem to bother me when certain ones had me marked and would keep showing up over and over again. One older lady would ask for more money each time she saw me, first it was $5 and I gave her $10. Then it was $10, then $15. Then $30. Then $60. I started to balk at the $60. Then one day, she told me she had no place to sleep. I volunteered to tote her around in my car looking for a place because I could see she was tired and her feet hurt. I could not imagine what it would be like to not have a place to sleep.

To make a long story shorter, as we went from one seedy hotel to another I learned why she did not have a place to sleep. She was mean, cantankerous and loud and had been banned from all of them. I began to wonder how I was going to both help her and also get her out of my car so I could go home. (I knew I was not taking her with me.)

I ended up paying for a motel room for her for a week just to get her out of my car. The room was on the second floor but I don't do well with stairs (bad knee) so I did not walk up with her. She kept going on and on about how good it was to find a friend. She wanted my phone number so she could call and talk every day. I made no comment and did not give her my number. I just wanted to get rid of her. I could see I was in over my head.

As she walked up the stairs and I stood at the bottom, she turned and saw the look on my face and knew exactly what I was thinking. She got it and I never saw her again. I always felt guilty about that -- but if I had it to do over, I'm sure I would have put a stop to it much sooner. Right at about $10 might have been a good place.

There are other stories but they all seem to end the same way. I've begun to learn that certain people simply choose to live off of other people. I always had in mind that my giving would make a difference in their lives and would help them steady themselves where they were so they could get back to taking care of themselves. We all need help from time to time. But the folks who have no intention of bettering themselves and improving their lives and becoming stable members of society do not have that in mind. I think that they just don't know there is another way of doing things. What they do has worked so far... what needs to change? Just like me, they are stuck in their own particular rut.

I recently had to cut out a friendship, endure this person's "wrath," and simply walk away. It was so nice to be free again. I still felt guilty and wondered if this was what God wanted me to do... but I just knew I could not take it any more. (My financial position was being put in jeopardy -- I no longer have the good job I had before.)

This person, having no constraints, still makes attempts to "reconcile" but I have known him long enough to know how he has treated other people including his own mother, so am not letting him wile his way back into my good graces. I actually miss him, but cannot afford his friendship. I am polite, but very careful about getting caught in that web again.

I don't know if I have advice for anyone else. Each person is different and each situation is unique. I'm still open to giving, but I hope that I am wiser now. It is those "repeat customers" that you have to watch out for. LOL

Thanks for the article!!

I believe we all need to be picky and selective on who we help out.
My husband and I did not have children as we decided to help others and missions with our money.

We attended a church and one day there was a visiting speaker from a "well-known" church somewhere. The local pastor then said that all those only with Kids need to come up to be prayed for.

What about the ones without kids and the single and the ones who desperately needed praying?

This is where money isn't evenly distributed and it pains me that this pastor has that kind of attitude about him!

To make the point, if he is being selective in praying for people, we should be selective in helping people too!

I do give sometime and fortunate enough I have never found myself in a situation that I regret after being generous toward all the needy who I do come across.

You had wonderful stories to share and to be frank all I really enjoy your generous characters. All your stories today have helped refreshed my brain after long hours of trying to conclude my assignment and submit it before 12:00 am.

Thanks to all.

You may be right as it applies to some people, Julie, but I have seen the opposite happen, too, especially within families. People who ask for help or are given help and, instead of repaying when possible, they just keep coming back to the proverbial well. These people are users and it is their modus operandi. Sad, but true sometimes.

I have always been a giver and used to literally give the coat off my back to try and "help" others. I am still a giver but have learned in 60 years to do it with balance. I now know that not everyone will want, need or appreciate what I do for them or "think" I should do for them. Thank you for being so honest, Dr. Kim. I always appreciate your articles. Bonnie B.

Well said, Bonnie.

It's hard on the heart to read all this and think about how difficult it is to make these decisions, especially after looking at a photo collage today on another blog (Indigenize!) of children around the world and their toys, and finding, to my complete lack of surprise, that the kids with the most have been culturally taught to keep it closest to themselves.

But it does get easier, after many years of giving, to see the "red flags" more quickly. I remember being confused and hurt by people's reactions when I spent hours in my twenties making crafts and food for gifts to everyone I knew. Now I know to only spend hours working on something if the recipient is sure to understand the love and care involved (and believe me, it's never the rich people! -- it's called projection -- if I want to spend more than five minutes or five bucks for somebody else, I must necessarily have a creepy ulterior motive, because who in her right mind would do nice stuff for free?).

We have been culturally supported in growing our propensities for giving or taking. We are gradually becoming aware of how this unfair thing called "money", along with the concepts of "ownership" and "deserving", has created that. I think the givers are figuring it out sooner. We are definitely rebalancing, and some are finding it harder than others.

Thanks, everyone, for the gifts of your very thoughtful and thought-provoking comments.

Lesley

My extended family have been the one's who abuse our generosity over the years. The Christian church taught me a very warped view of giving (prosperity teaching. ie. give & God will bless you.), which ultimately enabled people to continue with their addictions & laziness through my giving. In undoing this false teaching I now feel released to incorporate common sense, wisdom & availability in my giving. Over the years I've had to find discernment & often a 'tough love' approach to giving. So true, the one's that truly need help shy away from receiving.
Thank you, for your words of wisdom.

I was stuck by this article by Mr. Kim about giving, because I have always felt his newsletters are such a gift. I've wondered how he gets any monetary gain from writing and distributing his insiteful pieces, health information and recipes. I enjoy his site because it isn't commercial and seems so heartfelt. But of course a person must still make a living

I have also had the same thing happen to me. I don't have money to give, but I would try to help people, especially people in my family, with my time - such as shopping for them - being with them when they needed someone to talk to - taking them places - it would always turn out that they expected more and more from me as time went on and never minded asking. I would keep doing these things until I had no time of my own. It took me a very long time to realize that I was being taken advantage of. It's a sad thing, also, because I came across as so strong and independent because I was always doing things for other people that when things got tough for me, no one offered to help. I am not a person who can ask for help; I always think I can do it on my own, but there were times I was disappointed in my family because they knew I was struggling, but never offered. (I don't mean with money) - I mean "broken ankle," - "trips 100 mi. away to see doctor for rare disease" - things like that. I will still help people when I can, but now I have limits. I don't regret helping anyone, but I also have to keep myself healthy and sane, so that's why I set limits now.

I am an old sage - and also learned the hard way....both giving and taking....but my father taught me that when one gives without expecting anything in return - I mean truly - not being paid back, not expecting anyone to be overjoyed at your generosity - and if you can't give that way from the heart - don't give...the intention is the thing you see,

If you give with the intention that your assistance is truly appreciated, it will be, if you give expecting nothing in return, and nothing in return comes, you are fulfilling your intention...both parties are "off the hook" ...the reason this is important for the heart is we may never know in our lives when we will meet adversity, and will need a comforting smile, a piece of bread, a coat, a dollar - love....if you give this way, it comes back to you like a boomerrang - that is the guide given in the Bible...and it works, but only if you really are GIVING.....let me tell you a story, just one of many, in my life....

I was dead poor....after paying the rent - and figuring out the groceries for the week so that I could feed my family and make several dish varieties with the barest of essentials - I only had $2.00 left to my name..I said oh, what the heck...it was dollar night at the local theatre....told you I was old...so off hubby and I went - might as well spend our last $2 - on us and have a bit of entertainment...this was so before TV was ever invented...during intermission, yep, we saw two movies - I went to the Ladies...and upon returning almost went over on my ankle as I stepped on a wrapper (?) bending down to move it out of the way so that no one else could trip, lo and behold, it was a $20.00 bill...more than an entire week's salary...I could hardly contain myself...there was no one in sight - I thought I should really tell someone about this - but then another thought popped into my head...if someone crumbled up a $20.00 bill, they did not have much respect for it...I waited until we were walking home, and showed my husband...what a heaven sent gift!!!

Two years later, I was fortunate enough to obtain an excellent job, was well liked and had just cashed my check - and was waiting for a streetcar amongst a crowd of at least 15 people....fishing around in my open purse, I was hunting for a small bill to buy a ticket. All of a sudden a HUGE gust of wind came up and literally picked up a $20.00 bill out of my open purse and floated it over my head and away...I tried to grab for it, but the conductor was bellowing...I saw a hand in the crowd grab the bill,and heard some happy shrieks...I said a silent prayer - and asked our Creator that I hope it changes the fate for the better of that person, as that crumpled up bill we found at the movies years back changed ours...honestly, at that moment, with people elbowing me to get on the street car, that was the memory that flooded my mind..and I smiled with joy, yes joy,that I could be an instrument for good - I have had many such scenario's in my life,and I am thankful for them...and I in turn have also received many blessings...often from complete strangers. They do not have to be large to be meaningful....it could something as small as a compliment spoken from the heart...to change the perspective and sometimes the path of another's life...

Your story made me smile with tears in my eyes! I have had similar things happen to me too! Found an item when I really needed it, and lost one at another time when someone else needed it! And I believe too that if we give, it should be with a pure heart with no expectation of reciprocation (although that would be nice!!).

What a wonderful story -- I've had similar experiences, and we get out of them what we will. Some others would not have reacted the way you did, and they learned something different. Thanks again for sharing, especially your thoughts on what it means to *actually* give, without expectations. Absolutely true.

Ditto! Almost to the word... Your last sentence is particularly resonant and concise. :) Thanks, Marilyn!

Thanks for your honesty. I believe most people are very caring about others and try to help them but with limitations. People who are generous tend to be consistent until they have a few life lesson experiences to get them to change their behavior!. I definitely am one of those people. Yes I have received the generosity of my family several times, and sometimes that from strangers. I have also given very generously (time and MONEY), without directly being asked, strangely enough to several people over the years I hardly knew. I am responsible for my own behavior and it has been a valuable lesson!. My goal is to be wealthy and give most of it away to those who truly are making the world a better place. I am apparently an empath and feel for other people's needs tending to give money. I would love to be wealthy so I can share with others and groups, but with HEALTHY boundaries in place.
Yes, agreed, if you help someone they can easily expect you to help them again.
What i have learned from generously helping people I hardly knew is this...understand that everyone, including me, CREATES THEIR OWN REALITY. I am compassionate but wherever someone is, they created, they are responsible for. If they in turn always 'play victim' in some way and rely on others they will not change their ways and create their abundance. I can listen, and even make suggestions (if they ask me to) but I am only responsible for my own needs overall.
I feel incredibly FREE now because I am changing my behavior and making ME a priority with time and money. It is a learning process.
namaste', rachel

Dear Dr. Kim, your article should be required reading for every wanna-be do-gooder out there, including yours truly. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

It's unfortunate, but family members can be equally deceptive and greedy. My own brother stole my inheritance . . . no-one wants to know the pain of that. The tell-tale flag in recognizing these kinds of leeches: No guilt! No scrooples! All lies and using people. I'm an old lady now, and I've learned there are lots of sociopaths
out there in this world. Be slow to give of yourself. Look for them to have no guilt and emptyness in their eyes . . . like a dead person looking nowhere. That's a sociopath.

Ben, I have to share a little Shakespeare here from his play Hamlet, where Polonius gives advice to his son Laertes, who is headed off to college:

Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar;
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in,
Bear 't that th' opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Dr. Kim: Thanks for your article for which is a blessing to me. I was always struggling whenever I 'softly' turned 'requesters' down or just quiet (no response) to their requests. Your article has made me feel better - Maybe it means to bless me to heal my soul!
Yes, I totally agreed with Dr. Kim about helping others anonymously. It's saved me a lot of 'troubles'.

Much appreciated!
-Anne

I have learned over the years to give according to the teaching in the Bible. When you give to someone do not expect a return. To not let youre left hand know what youre righthand is doing. Givin (when you can afford it) is from the heart. I have found that when I gave to others, when I needed a boost or some help there where others who gave generously to me and my family. It is ultimately Yawheh wh will balamnce the books. Be joyfull that you are able to help someone wh is truly in need. When we let Yahweh lead our hearts it truly is good to give!!!!

Salam,
You are a kind hearted man. And I appreciate how you do good things secretly, not expecting thanks. And it is great that you share this with us right now.

My belief is to always give priority to the needy relatives –at least you know them -, and the people around you whom you can be sure of the nature of their need and them ( neighbors for example, although the strong bond among neighbors in America is no longer there, and most of the world who followed the western footsteps!!).

if each capable person make the priority of charity to relatives, neighbors, friends and his close social group circle, all will be fine!.

However, you will find yourself in a situation where you face strangers who are in need, and can't evaluate the nature of need or the nature of the person you are giving, but that's ok, if you do it for the sake of God in the first place (for your spiritual growth in other words) and you acted according to the information available and according to your financial capability, then if it later appears that they don't deserve it, its their problem, not yours, and they will have to suffer until they learn their whatever lesson. And you should still feel good about yourself, as you did what you thought was the right thing to do, and had no expectations, except wishing the good for the people you helped, and this should never change.

Another thought.. I think it is always good to teach a needy person how to fish, and buy him the fishing tools if he can't afford to buy them, instead of feed him a fish.

You just do whatever you believe it is the right thing to do,
and remember to make a conscious intention of why you're doing it and for what purpose, and remind yourself of your intention along the way, so you won't have false expectation or get disappointed and have regret feelings, and maybe have a negative reaction towards helping others.

thanks,

Also, the following verses came across my mind when i read your article, so i thought to share them with you :

[2:267]
O you who believe, expend of the good things you have earned, and of what We have produced for you from the earth, and seek not the corrupt of it for your expending; for you would never take it yourselves without closing your eyes to it; and know that God is Independent, Laudable.

[2:268]
Satan promises you poverty and enjoins you to indecency, but God promises you His pardon, and His bounty; and God is Embracing, Knowing.

[2:269]
He gives wisdom to whomever He will, and he who is given wisdom, has been given much good; yet none remembers, but the people of pith.

[2:270]
And whatever expenditure you expend, and whatever vow you make, surely God knows it. For the evildoers, they have no helpers.

[2:271]
If you proclaim your voluntary almsgivings, it is a fine thing; but if you conceal them, and give them to the poor, that is even better for you; and it will absolve you of your evil deeds. God is aware of what you do.

The guiding of them is not thy duty (O Muhammad), but Allah guideth whom He will. And whatsoever good thing ye spend, it is for yourselves, when ye spend not save in search of Allah’s Countenance; and whatsoever good thing ye spend, it will be repaid to you in full, and ye will not be wronged.
[2:272]

[2:273]
For the poor, who are constrained in the way of God; and they are unable to journey in the land; the ignorant man supposes them rich because of their abstinence; but you shall know them by their mark; they do not ask nor beg of men importunately. And whatever good you expend, surely God has knowledge of it.

[2:274]
Those who expend their wealth night and day, secretly and openly, their wage awaits them with their Lord, and no fear shall befall them, neither shall they grieve.

[17:26]
Give the relative his right, and the needy and the wayfarer (stranger traveler). And do not squander wastefully (recklessly).

[4:36]
And serve Allah. Ascribe no thing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents, and unto near kindred, and orphans, and the needy, and unto the neighbor who is of kin (unto you) and the neighbor who is not of kin, and the fellow-traveler and the wayfarer and (the slaves) whom your right hands possess. Lo! Allah loveth not such as are proud and boastful,

Holey Quran

This is what i try to practice, when loaning anything to anyone....Never loan what you are not willing to give away.

That is what I try to do in regard to time. I have a hard time saying "no" and am trying to change. I have been taken advantage of by non-family members, but not so much anymore, now it is still by family members. If I would not want to do it unless I was paid, I don't do it for others, if it's something I would do for free, then I am willing to do it. Lots of difference circumstances, but as I get older I am realizing I don't have unlimited time.

I really enjoyed your article on giving.
I, too, have had similar experiences. I remember two ladies who came to the door asking for food. My sister and I fixed up a sack lunch for them. After a few minutes the doorbell rang again and they were asking for something to drink. I told them to go ahead and use my hose to drink water and then, they asked for cups! So I gave them some disposable cups. My sister and I were soon laughing about how that doorbell might be ringing again and we would be asked for a tablecloth and maybe some silverware...? Anyway, my philosophy, after a few unpleasant experiences, is that if I decide to help someone by lending money or possessions, I have to look at it as a gift, never to be returned. That way I don't expect it back and I don't have to feel bad that I never got it back. It gets the same results...it makes one careful about who you 'bless'. And if you get something back, it is that much more pleasing!!

In reply to Lydia Boureslan: I was a little surprised to read that instead of providing a disposable cup of water, one would suggest that the ladies drink from the water hose? I find that somewhat humiliating for the one in need. I too would have asked for a cup of water and I think anyone else might have as well. As many have said - when you decide to give - give wholeheartedly.

No other comment necessary, I don't think. Thanks for having the guts to say something.

Thanks so much for posting this article. I just wanted to share a quick quote my dad always liked to say while my brothers and I were growing up. "If you lend someone $20 and you never see them again, it was probably worth it." I found this saying to be relevent to your post and thought I might pass on the wisdom my father incessantly passed on to us.

Had similar experience twice in my life.

I had given a sewing machine to an immigrant lady, with the thought that she could sew and make a living. Thinking that she may be too embarrassed to accept it free of charge I agreed for her to sew a couple of blouses. Guess what, the next time I went to visit, to give her the material, her husband was there and they both accused me of giving her a broken down machine and the attitude was so
threatening that I left hurriedly and pretty shaken up.

The second experience was with loan to very close relative who was in desperate need of cash for his next shipment. When asked for repayment of the loan seven years later, after very abusive language and lot of heated exchange the loan amount was returned with the consequences that we are no longer on talking terms - our children will never know of me or my family and vice versa. To this day he thinks I had no right to ask for the money- because I have lots of money.

My dad had given me some advice when I was young; Never pick a fallen man to the height from where he can kick you! - I guess we all learn the hard way.

Thanks for allowing me to share

I struggle with this issue of giving too, to an extend that I sometimes feel I always give to the wrong people while I am sure there are many people out there who would benefit from my giving.On the other hand though I think giving is just that on the event it happens and it is very fulfilling so no matter how hard we choose those we give it will never be enough for them,because I have learned in life that the only thing that satisfies a person is to work for their needs not to be given.
Other gifts that we may wan't to reconsider are....paying medical bills for people,paying fees for less fortunate students even if we do not know them directly and so on.
This was a very good article to share.

Wa do (thank you) Ben Kim for all your wonderful, honest sharing. You are much appreciated. Thank you, too,to all those who shared their life experiences. I learned through time and experience and also shared many of the various (same) experiences as everyone else. Now, I give when it seems right with Creator in my heart,and at some point I move on because (for me) it is time with the knowledge that I did what I could BUT, I do no longer allow myself to be taken advantage of. I prefer to teach a 'man' to fish that 'he' may eat not just for a day...philosophy. I do what I do in prayer for it is also biblical;"that we shall always have the poor"...and this seems so on this earth.I used to believe that we should have no expectation. I now believe that we do and should have expectation that seeds we plant shall come to harvest...every act is a seed and if you expect nothing you shall/might (very well) have nothing...our Creator EXPECTS harvest from seeds and so should we. There is nothing wrong from expectation (in my feeling). Everyone has given good information and shared here from the heart. It is all of value. Each of us must share as we are drawn/called to and know when and if we must 'move on' . this is what I have to say...Blessings to all and thank you for sharing. Bow :-)

A close friend of mine, asked me if I could write letters to her son who was in prison, for she is not the type to write..being I liked her as a friend and wanted to help, I started writing to her son..it was close to 5 years that I wrote to him..even gave him money to buy what he needed in prison, more than once. I lived about 3 houses away from them when I met them, at the time her son was a around 12 yrs. old. I moved away to another city in same state.Well when he was older, he and a friend robbed a fast food place, his friend slammed the gun on the drive up counter and it went off and killed that man.Long story short, they were incarcerated for a very long time. Only 19 yrs old...well I was asked to write to the Board of Parole, which I did. after 20 yrs in prison he was given a parole and could go back home, (he was in prison in different state)He had a work kind of parole, still working and not quite free yet. but I'm sure he will be if he keeps up with his work.. Whie in prison he made handmade jewelry boxes, sent me one. built a ship, sent me one. and did many paintings which is quite good..gave me 3 of them...we use to write to each other about a letter a month. Well one day, I got the shock of my life and his letter came back, with a stamp on it which said, no longer in prison..so I called my friend up and told her that the letter to her son came back..and she said, Oh, he is back home now, so I said what? and nobody let me know? for it was about 10 days that passed since i sent that last letter..I was rather upset, and at that moment felt used...am I wrong for feeling this way? For I was trying to build up his moral, and he was telling me how he studies the bible etc. and how much he is a changed man etc..But in my heart if he studied the bible and loved our Lord, then why didn't he himself let me know the good news of him going back home...know what I mean. It has been 3 yrs since he is out, and not even a xmas card comes to me and my family..I am a married woman and my husband didn't know him for I married him after I moved away from that neighborhood..anyway that is my story, but should the gifts he made in prison that was given to me, make up for not telling me the good and happy news? No, not in my estimation...I could be wrong tho..and the funny thing is, that now me and my friend are no longer close, that was not my choice, but hers..so I felt used...

I wish to reply to your letter. What comes through quite clearly is that you are a kind, loving person whose feelings, unfortunately, have been very hurt by this experience, and now you're feeling used. And, although I can understand your feelings, I cannot, in good conscience, validate them, which is something you seem to be looking for.

I believe that when we truly give with our hearts, we do so freely, and without any expectaion of some kind of return. I regret, for your sake, that you feel they now "owe" you something, which is what ultimately has left you feeling used. I suppose you can either choose to continue to feel this way, or perhaps you will come to view this experience as a "gift", in and of itself, since this experience provides you with a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate the notion of what it truly means to be generous. If, when you give of your love, time, money, or what have you, and you do so with the expectation of getting something back, then can one really consider themselves a giving, loving person?

Also, have you considered the possibility that this young man may be trying to start anew, putting all memories of prison behind him. Perhaps you're making him and his family feel obligated, which makes them want to run for the hills. And who could blame them? Without wanting to offend in any way, but have you considered the possibility that it's you, and not them, that has made this situation what it is. At any rate, I'm sorry you ae no longer close. I know trhis hurts you, but maybe some good can still come from it. Take care.

Dear Eileen, I feel sorry about how you felt used in this relationship. But,then again, it could just be that the return home for him was not all sunshine & roses. First he probably had to cope with a certain amount of shame. Then, possibly had more trouble than he'd dreamed finding a real job after his parole. Whatever happened- that was probably the reason you didn't hear from him right away.I can't pretend to know, I'm just suggesting that it may not be so easy for him being 'Out'.
I was just wondering why you kept up this correspondance relationship? I have no idea, friendship? , to do a work of charity, or"visiting the imprisoned (by mail)"?, or did you feel obliged to do it?, did you just think he would enjoy your letters to lighten his load- being stuck in a prison (tho the situation does make one wonder if he's honest with himself, about his punishment- if it was deserved, or too severe, etc.) Maybe he was a victim of injustice?
It's not clear to me if you wrote letters for his Mom to him, or just the two of you exchanged letters.
It may take many times of reading a verse before it's understood--actually, the older we get, the better we understand it... The deeper we understand it's message. At least it is this way for me. Did you & his Mom share about what you wrote him? During all this were you in touch with his Mom? Maybe she didn't think to reach you...Or did she think you were upset with her? Don't feel used,you were useful at the time. I give you 1st Corinthians 13:verse 4 to the end of the chapter.
Love, Tanya PS:write me if you wish.God bless you.

Dear Eileen, I did send you an answer- I just decided to write out the Quote I suggested you read..as I see people are putting quotes as answers, or part of their answer:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes,always perseveres. May it bless you.

 

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