Finding life through reciprocity

We grow when we give back

Richard Rohr, in a recent daily meditation of his, had this to say inspired by the Twelve Steps that are followed as part of Alcoholics Anoymous:

Step Twelve tells addicts that they will never really come to appropriate the power and importance of the first eleven steps until and unless they personally take it upon themselves to give it away to other people in need. This necessary reciprocity, a pattern of outflow and inflow, is one that many Christians have never committed to, and the whole religion has suffered because of it. I am convinced that in neglecting the need to serve and to pay back, many Christians lose whatever they might have gained in their private devotions; in fact they live inside a false peace, and sometime even a well-disguised narcissism.

Though Rohr’s intended audience here is primarily people of faith, this taps into a truth that carries resonance for all of us. There is a fullness of life that is only found when we devote ourselves to giving and serving others.

The challenge we face is that western culture is designed to turn us into hoarders. We are perpetual accumulators of both possessions and knowledge. Everything is done for ourselves. We are getters and takers.

The problem with this, is that we can never get enough. No matter what we have, we always want more. We have been bred to spend our lives dissatisfied.

Life though, life in all its fullness, is found when we don’t settle for a life of accumulating. Life is found when we decide to give back and serve others.

The myth that holds us back from this is that we don’t have enough to give. We tell ourselves we don’t have enough money, or time, or knowledge, to give anything back. But we never will. And if we believe this lie, it will trap us within a lesser existence.

Giving back and serving others is a matter of the heart. It’s not about how much we have to give, but the desire to give.

Let’s stop buying into the myth that we don’t have enough. And let’s break free from the cultural lure that says we always need more. If we do, we might just discover a dimension to life we’ve been missing out on.

Hoping for hope

Letting go of cynicism