When Giving is All We Have

When Giving is All We Have
courtesy of freepik.com

When Giving is All We Have

A friend had surgery recently, so I headed to Souper Jenny in Roswell to pick up some comfort food. I had never been there before, and wow, what an impact one little space can have! The walls had colorful messages about being kind and creating a pleasant experience. Everyone there was friendly and happy – staff and customers alike – and we chatted about the fruit salad, and my bread options, and I even got a free cookie.

The big detail that grabbed me the most was the bins with inspirational take-home messages. I was immediately drawn to a bright pink sheet of paper with a poem by Alberto Ríos.

When Giving is All We Have
Courtesy of Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper

Those first three stanzas landed right in the gut. Giving can be a complicated exercise. It’s more than just wrapped presents; giving can also mean your time, your heart, your ear, your sweat, your tears – just completely pouring into someone – sometimes to the point of losing yourself.

So why do we give?  As the poet suggests, maybe it’s because we have received love and want to return it. Perhaps we provide because it keeps us safe; our relationships will continue because we are indispensable. Or, maybe we want to create feelings in others we wish we felt in ourselves. It feels good to give – to take care of someone, to further a cause, to bring joy. It can also hurt to provide – not to get what you need in return, to discover it did not solidify your place in a relationship, to realize, deep down, that the validation you seek will never come from another person – it can only come from inside of you.

You’ve given everything to everyone – but have you given enough to yourself?

I envision an exhausted stagehand, sitting in the dark, having just shut down the lights, swept the stage, and put the props and costumes back in place for the next performance. The actors have long since gone, having received their flowers and applause, and are now all at the bar down the street, celebrating and posting pictures on Facebook. She was there, in the vital center of it all, the excitement, the stress, the quick changes and crises averted, the giggles and high-fives, the ultimate success of the show – until she wasn’t.  Does she scroll through her phone and become consumed with feelings of being left out, under-appreciated, and overworked? Or, does she take a quiet moment to cheer herself on, take pride in her accomplishments, and then text a fellow stagehand to plan dinner soon?  The answer is in the love, self-care, and internal work she gives to herself.

I took my friend soup because I love her. She is a bright light in my life, a source of support, fun, and inspiration, and I wanted to be a part of her healing process.

We can be those things for ourselves too, with the right help and willingness to dig into the hard stuff.  So go for it – be the soup for your soul. Create your green. And when giving is all you have, put yourself at the top of the list.


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