There are so many ways of giving. We can give our time, our love, presents, donate to causes...the list goes on.
But to me, the most generous and kindest way of giving is to give from the heart and to give unconditionally. This is not at all easy to do - although I am sure this is what we THINK we do.
I spent many years believing I retained some type of ownership over whatever it was I was giving to someone else. If I gave you a present, I would be really hurt if you:
a. Didn't like it
b. Gave it away
c. Threw it out
I would even be silly enough to ask if you liked it (expecting the answer to be yes). Please don't ask this question if you are at risk of being shattered.
A wise person once told me, "Sue, never ask the question you don't want to hear the answer to". So today I tend to say: "I hope you like it, but if you don't you are free to do as you please with it".
It totally removes my expectations and the receiver's sense of guilt.
This is also true of giving your love away. To be able to love unconditionally, we need to learn that it is not up to us to put conditions on that love. You know what I mean; 'If you love me, you would/wouldn't...' 'I love you but...' and any others you can fill in yourself. These are not words of love, they are words of emotional blackmail and are not at all loving.
If we are not comfortable we can tell them so, why ask if they could change? And if they don't change, then it is up to us to decide what we do - not continue to try to make them adjust! And yes, that is tough! But it is much tougher trying to mold someone to your requirements when they don't want to be that way.
Then we come the the gift of time - doing things for others. This is ONLY a true gift if you again have no expectations on the outcome and are doing it because you want to. If you find yourself resenting doing things for others, know you are not doing it for love. Love and resentment can't live in the same space. Or, even worse (I believe), is when someone does something for you, then they keep it to use as a lever or bargaining chip later on.
'Well, I looked after your child when they were sick, so you SHOULD lend me your car.'
'Remember when I came and picked you up from the city? Don't get angry at me for forgetting to pick up the child from kinder.'
And many more...
To truly give from the heart, we must give with an open hand, not a clenched fist. Once it leaves our hand, it is no longer ours. We can no longer decide how it can be used or what happens with it. It has become the receivers gift to accept and all we can do is pray that they receive it with the same loving intention it was given with.
It is very freeing to give with an open heart and hand and it allows us to
rejoice in the art of giving.