Unpacking Generosity

May 17, 2010

in Acts of Service, Good Marriage

gen·er·ous

–adjective

1. liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: a generous patron of the arts; a generous gift.
2. free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous.

I like those definitions of generous, but I would define it thusly:

Giving beyond what is expected or deserved, giving with no expectation of receiving in return.

My bride taught me this, by doing it for/to me. She decided she wanted to be extremely generous, and she realised she needed to start with those closest to her – our children and myself. Without telling me what she was doing, she began to give. Now, my bride has never been selfish, but when she decided to be generous she went all out, and I quickly realised something had changed. I also found myself reacting in kind. I have come to believe that this is all but unavoidable – if you are truly generous, if you give what is not deserved and do it with no thought to getting something in return, those you are generous towards will become more giving to you. Unless your “target” is deeply broken, they will react to generosity with generosity – it may happen quickly, or slowly, but it will happen. However, don’t try being generous for that reason – if you do, you are looking for something in return, and are not being genuinely generous.

One of the things that made my bride’s generosity so powerful was that she realised she should not give me what she wanted to give, or what was easy for her to give; she determined to discover what I most wanted, and give me that. In our case, sex was high on that list, and despite the difficulty she was still having with sex, she made a real effort in that area. She gave what I wanted, despite that being difficult

I want to issue a warning – true generosity can be difficult and costly. As my bride showed me, real generosity is about what the other person most wants and needs – no matter how difficult that might be. What’s more, if you want to do it right, you have to do it all the time, not just when life is good and you feel on top of things. An attitude of generosity means you are looking to bless another, and that blessing is not subject to how you feel. Obviously, you have limits, and when you are tired or stressed it does affect your ability to be generous. Still, if you make generosity a high priority, you will find a way to give something no matter what.

Bottom line: Generosity is a powerful tool for good, but it’s not for wimps. Still, if my bride can do it … (is that past double dog dare?)

2 comments
Favor
Favor

This is deep. The sentence that stuck me the most was: "she determined to discover what I most wanted, and give me that." That's likely my issue. I give give give all of the time. Giving what my husband needs is truly the most important thing. The other gifts have no value, if its nothing that he needs or wants. Well, the value is decreased.

.Philip
.Philip

This pretty much captures what love is all about; love can't exist without generosity. I like how you assert that "real generosity is about what the other person most wants and needs." So true and so easy to get wrong

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