Does It Take Gifts To Keep Friends and Family?

does it take gifts to keep friends and family?

It certainly shouldn’t take gifts to keep others in our lives. But how does it play out during chronic illness? Normally those who are generous with “gifts” find themselves in an interesting twist during illness. Are you someone who usually comes with a gift in hand and are now faced with the expenses of illness?

I have thought about this so many times during my years of chronic illness that it made my head hurt. Won’t even touch on how much it has made my heart ache.

Many of you have shared stories with the same tone. Relationship are complicated and we are all trying to find ways to navigate.

Gifts are only one aspect of relationships. It rarely is the sole breaking point with friends and family. People are more complex that that. Yet, when life happens we can narrow down some of the factors of broken relationships, like gift giving.

With chronic illness comes tremendous expenses and usually financial hardship. There is simply nothing left for the traditional treats from a gift-giving soul.

Taking away the usual generosity, what are we left with? Do friends and family really stick around?

….and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.

~ Proverbs 19:6b (NIV)

I am talking about the average person who generally loves giving to others. That can just seem like part of one’s personality until the events of chronic illness.

Lessons come in odd ways. Certainly ways we would not choose.

Chronic illness is not the cause of the events. Instead, people’s true hearts are revealed during chronic illness.

I have been the recipient of gift-givers and I have been the giver. I am familiar with both sides. I am familiar with the discomfort of receiving and I have relished in the joy of giving. I love a generous heart, one with no strings attached. And then…

Then came chronic illness and what I thought was true and right got turned up-side-down.

God tells us to be generous, good stewards of our money, fair, help the poor. What we have is truly God’s and not ours anyway. So OF COURSE we should always be generous. Welllllll…. hummmmm. God is NEVER wrong so how did I get this ALWAYS generous into my head?

There are times that there is nothing left to give. Chronic illness brought that fact to reality quickly for me. Okay, so I found other ways to be generous. Yet, during intense chronic illness, there is not even energy to be generous with. The resources become dwindled but one can always choose to give love. That’s good, right???

Wellllllll…. it makes sense to me, but when others don’t like the transition, they seem to disappear. Hang on, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

When a normally generous person (of time, money, energy) can no longer be as generous with such, it cleans up relationships really fast. They either go away or the sincere stay. This is a good thing, not a bad thing.

God has an interesting way of cleaning up our lives in ways we cannot see for ourselves.

It has taken me a while to appreciate this particular transition, but I can finally find great joy in the peacefulness of true family and friendships and not miss the meaningless ones.

Peace usually comes with trying to see things through God’s eyes and not our own.

It may take years to overcome the financial loss of chronic illness so I still have lots of time to figure all this out. I truly believe in generosity but my view on MY generosity and MY gift-giving has definitely changed.

I do not need to give a gift to anyone to define MY value. I am of great value regardless of what I have to give (or don’t have to give when ill).

Friendships that are sincere have far greater value than the gifts exchanged.

Family is a little more tricky.

Family members who have monetary requirements for a relationship are not worth maintaining. Yikes, did I really say that? Yep, I really did. When there is a financial requirement to a relationship, why exactly do we have to maintain it?????

We can love family dearly. We can be willing to do anything for them, to take care of them, to love on them and always keep praying for them. But I am not finding anywhere that God says we need to be doormats to financial impossibilities from family, just because they are family.

With a soft and forgiving heart I write this. The goal is to let loved ones go so that they can make the choice to return in sincere love. Never EVER to banish a loved one. Jesus forgave us, in part, so we can learn how to forgive and be forgiven.

It is all so much more complicated than a blog. I never attempt to explain my life in these blogs, only what I have learned from a loving kind King who shows me how to be generous with my heart in the purest way. I am still learning, still growing, but this lesson has brought me full circle on my thinking on gifts of all sorts (time, money, energy).

We can learn to be more generous with our pure love and let go of the monetary nonsense. And if it takes chronic illness to force the issue, then THANK YOU LORD for the experience.

Everything will fall into place as it should, in time, in God’s time. Not an easy lesson to learn but I can now sit here with a smile on my face and joy in my heart for the lesson. And solid ground to stand on as I move forward.

God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.

~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

What is God telling YOU about this?

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