We all know of people that we don’t want to call because they only talk about themselves. We all know people that we don’t want to answer when they call because they always need a favor. I am sad to say that there are people in my life who i love more than they love me.
In these relationships, there is a disequilibrium of that indefinable currency. Sometimes the currency of friendship or family is favors. For example, our wonderful little neighborhood used to have a tradition of each house hosting all the children for a few hours on Friday night for pizza and a movie. The parent(s) of the other children got a few precious hours off. The host(s) had only to make or order pizza and play a movie. The children got stress free socialization with their neighbors. It was a win-win.
This arrangement kept the burden equal. There was equal exchange of time and services; favors. Imagine the friend who only calls to ask for a ride to the grocery store, a letter of recommendation, or free childcare? What about the friend for whom you do some favors and they do some favors, and it all seems to balance out?
A neglect for the very real, though indefinable currency of favors leads to damaged friendships, hurt feelings, and loss of community. I try to be very aware of when I ask for a favor, and carry that as an invisible IOU to be repaid. Maybe others are more capable of being casual about this exchange. I am not, because of previous relationships where I as taken advantage of. No doubt, there are also relationships where I was perceived as being given more, and that is always food for thought.
Some people say that each person in a relationship has to give equally, 50/50. If either fails in their obligation, the relationship suffers, or the other person gives more than their fair share.
A better paradigm is that to be in a relationship requires each person giving 100%. Certainly, you will fail many times in this high ideal. But to fail when aiming at the stars will still land you on the moon. Try hard, and harder. But, recognize when you are giving to a person who will only take.
In relationships where I have loved more than being loved, I certainly got more fulfillment from the loving that the being loved. Like the Prayer of Saint Francis, I got more from the relationship. However, being human, I felt a loss, a disadvantage. Always to complain about my treatment, or pose a critique was to risk ostracizing the person I loved. I felt that they were more free to walk away from the relationship that I was. But what kind of freedom is that? A freedom without connection can certainly be a radical type of liberation, free from the expectations and mores of others.
But do I suffer for loving more? Do I suffer for giving more? Or is it merely like the 401 K of spiritual currency, where i feel a bit put out at the time, but reap rewards later in excess of my input?
I suppose, in general, I chose to love. I chose to forgive. I chose to give of myself. Sometimes I will regret these choices, and learn, and choose again. Sometimes these investments will be poor investments, with no fruit to show for my labor. There may not be a lifelong friendship that results from the favors, or a beautiful family holiday that comes from my forgiveness and forbearance.
Mother Theresa says something along these lines:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them away. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Love Anyways. That’s what I’ll do.