* This is our second blog in a mini-series about generosity and burnout. If you haven’t yet, check out part one about generosity towards ourselves, here.
Grateful for Community
My wife and I are so grateful for the community of people we have around us, both locally and internationally. We have been very fortunate to develop many relationships together over our last 8 years of marriage and ever since we have had children, our gratitude expands because we never have to worry about finding babysitters. We don’t struggle with a sense of isolation or loneliness as we meet with church and community, friends and family throughout the week. We are even privileged to be empowered as leaders in the use of our spiritual gifts in our local church. My wife and I have become well-versed in avoiding burnout and managing stress.
I say all of this to offer some hope, not to paint a picture of a couple that never struggles, experiences conflict, or gives in to anxiety. No marriage or relationship is perfect! I say all of this to encourage you that it is possible to arrange your life in such a way that when struggles, conflict, and anxiety come knocking… you are full, you are rested, and you are ready. This rhythm of rest, generosity, and self-care is something that we are still developing and it has not always been this way.
My wife is honestly one of the most generous individuals you will ever meet. She is balanced, she is consistent, she is selfless, she is goal-oriented, she is thoughtful, and she always makes decisions with pure, unadulterated motivation. She fills in where I so often am horribly lacking! But that is the point, right?
Created for Companionship
In Genesis 2, God takes a step back. I imagine a hand on His chin, a puzzled but curious expression in his eyes, head cocked to the side… “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” He crafts a beautiful solution to the man’s deficiency. But it takes the sacrifice of His body to form the woman. In order for her to be shaped, molded, fashioned… He had to give of himself.
This is the first demonstration of generosity. The man and God had a relationship before the helper came along. What if God said to Him, “I need something from you, Son.” The man agrees and submits to the process, desiring more than anything to share this beautiful paradise with someone who is like him. God breathes a heavenly anesthesia into the man’s nostrils and takes what the man was willing to be opened up to give.
The first man gave a portion of himself to animate his companion, and the first woman offered him the ability to be transparent, authentic, “naked and unashamed” (2:25). They were given to each other, by God, to help each other to live as the best versions of themselves.
Generosity Toward Others
When you think of being generous towards others or helping them to become the best versions of themselves, what ideas come up for you?
- Can you remember a time when someone offered a listening ear when you were overwhelmed, panicked, depressed, or anxious?
- Can you recall a moment when you were the recipient of someone’s bend-over-backwards hospitality?
- Can you think back to a memory of someone serving you with their time, talent, finances, or kindness?
- There are so many ways that we can offer respite and rest to our friends and loved-ones.
- Who comes to mind when you think of putting yourself in a position to give, to serve, to be generous?
Some of the things that we as a couple have begun to do this year in an effort to offer generosity to each other are:
1. Prioritize regular date nights
They don’t have to be extravagant and expensive, they just have to be set-apart time to connect and check in. If you are not dating or married, are you able to schedule this kind of time with friends and loved ones?
2. Give each other self-date night
This is a new concept for us, but something that we have found to be so valuable. Your husband, your wife, your single-parent friend… they need a break, a couple hours to themselves where they are able to sit in silence, solitude, and stillness away from the children, away from chores and household responsibilities, away from noise and distraction. These nights, one of us will take on dinner and bedtime with the kids to allow the other person time to sit at a coffee shop and write, read, draw; to go on a run or walk and pray; to engage in some kind of intentional rest with the purpose of processing and re-filling.
3. Ask about needs
When was the last time you asked your spouse or friend this question: “What do you need? How can I serve you today?” This is a powerful question that extends an invitation to the person on the receiving end to share openly about any holistic (mental, spiritual, emotional, sexual, physical) need or desire. It gives the question asker an opportunity to respond uniquely and specifically to fulfill a need. It gives the generous one a chance to learn about their loved one to better serve them, to spontaneously serve them, in the future. It offers both people an increased sense of connection.
I want to challenge you to put these strategies for generosity in to practice over the coming month.
Your loved one is worth being served.
You are generous, kind, and valuable.
You are capable of meeting the needs of those you love.
“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer…” (Proverbs 11:24)