I enjoy Christmas—it’s a season of giving, and the giving of gifts is one of my favorite love languages. Deep joy comes from contributing to another person’s happiness and comfort. Yet, I found myself frustrated the other day as I hurriedly searched for a gift to take to a Christmas party.
Why did I feel so obligated? No one was forcing me to bring the gift. Even though the party invitation asked that a gift be brought for the benefit of another, it was still my choice to participate or not participate. I was losing my joy over something that was meant to be caring, fun, and fulfilling.
I soon realized my frustration was with a time and money crunch, not the gift giving. Instead of labeling myself as “Scrooge,” I decided to look beneath the surface for a deeper motivation in buying the gift—one other than, “I have to buy a gift if I want to participate in this party.” What need was I trying to fulfill within myself through the giving of this gift?
I decided that my need for community was the real reason I was going to the party and buying the gift. To connect with others and enjoy their company seemed the most honest answer I could give myself for braving the crowds on a busy day and spending money I could have used elsewhere. With this admission came relief and the ability to give from the heart.
The holidays provide plenty of opportunities to give from a sense of obligation. Underneath that obligation lays a hidden need waiting to be met. Below are some basic needs common to all people. Perhaps one of them is your motivation for giving a gift to your boss, and a different one might be your motivation for giving a gift to your sister.
Be honest with yourself. Identify your own need first, and then you will find the freedom to give from the heart.
- Connection—because you need community
- Celebration, fun, and laughter—because you need to play
- Acceptance and appreciation—because you need love
- Respect—because you need to be understood and valued
- Integrity—because you need to live your values
- Self-expression—because you need to express yourself
Well–where did your honesty take you?
Identifying a felt need within frees you up to truly give from the heart. The need you confess can become the need you desire to meet in the person receiving the gift. My need for community became part of the gift I was able to take to the party—I contributed to another’s desire for community.
Christmas is the season of giving gifts. What gift are you really giving when you place that package under the tree?
In Him together, Susan Gaddis