By Mark E. Smith
I always say that I never meet more content, fulfilled people than those giving to others, albeit a parent nurturing a child or one stranger helping another through acts of kindness and charity. And what’s intriguing is that those giving aren’t typically those who you’d think would be in a position or mindset to give. A friend of mine, for example, volunteers tirelessly with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Yet, I’ve watched his own progression of muscular dystrophy take him from walking to needing extensive care, using a very high-end power chair, having lost the use of most of his muscles. How is it that someone losing his own health can retain the spirit to support the health of others?
The Bishop, T.D. Jakes, says that if you want to find ultimate healing and fulfillment, “give what you haven’t received.” Think about that. If you want to fill a void in your life, give to others what you haven’t received.
Now, if you’re a literal person, you’re probably thinking, How can I give what I don’t have?
Quite easily and with profound effects, actually. Anyone who knows me knows that my daughter is the center of my life, with fatherhood my single most important role. There’s nothing that I won’t do for my daughter, and literally every morning for the past 16 years, I ask myself, What does my daughter need from me today, and how can I be a better father?
However, here’s the twist: My father wasn’t in my life. Beyond a stepfather, who tried but didn’t have the functional capacities to parent, I grew up not knowing what a father was. And, I remember being in my late teens and early 20s yearning for a father, but not knowing the role of a father.
And, then my daughter was born. With her birth, in an instant, much of the void was healed within me. For the first time, I knew what a father was: me.
Through giving my daughter that which I had not received – a true father – it ended a negative cycle, and the effect was profound. Through being a father, I resolved not having a father, and knowing that I could give my daughter what I didn’t have was the purest form of healing I’ve ever known.
I see the healing power of giving to others what we have not received in so many aspects of life. In disability experience, like my friend with muscular dystrophy, if our condition can’t be controlled, let us serve others in similar situations to better their lives. Maybe you didn’t have a mentor in your career, so mentor someone yourself. Maybe no one pulled you aside when you were struggling in some way in life, so be there now to pull someone aside and help. The list goes on and on, but here’s the point: you don’t need to have in order to give.
Sure, common sense says that in order to give, one must first receive. Yet, in reality, one must not receive in order to give; but, rather, one should give what one hasn’t received. And, by doing so, the circle remarkably completes itself – because we, too, receive in the process.