No Pride in Giving, No Shame in Taking

The line Saturday morning was long and jumbled and talkative.

Each person was waiting to receive their free teal bag. It contained a carefully-loaded gift of meat and vegetables and dessert, enough to cook a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner for their family this Thursday.


I walked through the crowd and said hello here and there, looking for someone who wanted to talk.

I saw a friend and stopped. We chatted about the autumn weather finally arriving.

Then she told me what she often tells me, “Thank you so much for what y’all are doing. It makes such a big difference to us.”

I gave my standard reply, “We’re just passing it along as God gives it. We’re glad to do it.”

And it’s true. God gives to us so we can enjoy giving to others.

But more is true.

I said it to her. I needed to hear it again myself. It is this:

None of us know when it will be our turn to be on the receiving end.

None of us are above it.

None of us are below it.

We like to think, “It’ll never be me.” After all, we plan and save and prepare for such surprises. I’ll always be on this side of the line, we think, never the other.

But if we’ve ever seen (or been) someone devastated by a job loss or a health catastrophe or a financial crumble, we know that, yes, it could be us.

And in many ways it has already been us, it is us now, and it will be us again.

Give and take is a dance. It’s an art form of rhythm and movement, of story and liturgy, of back and forth.

Sometimes we give.
Sometimes we take.

We’re not better people because we give.
We’re not worse people because we take.

We all do a little of both in every season of our lives, in various ways, and in differing degrees.

Let none of us think we’re always a giver. Or always a taker. We’re all some of both. Because that’s how God designed community to work.

If we participate in this dance with grace and partners and intention, it’s a beautiful waltz to behold.

Notice this Thanksgiving week how you dance back and forth between giving and receiving, between offering and accepting, between handing out and taking in.

And whichever side you fall on in this moment, say thanks. Thankful to be able to give. Thankful to be able to receive.

My friend and I ended our conversation in agreement:

When we have, we give.
And when we need, we receive.

There should be no pride or shame on either end.

Let’s be grateful in it all.

* * *

For November, I’ve been welcoming Song and Dance for Welcome,” my One Word for 2016. See the monthly welcoming practices here.


How will you give this week? How will you receive? Please share in the comments.

32 thoughts on “No Pride in Giving, No Shame in Taking

  1. Trudy

    I love this reminder, Lisa, that “We’re not better people because we give. We’re not worse people because we take.” No pride or shame in either. And I think even those who are on the receiving end of financial help still can give to others in so many other ways. Thank you. Have a blessed Thanksgiving! Hugs!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Exactly, Trudy. Money is only one of a million different ways to give. We often place too much emphasis on it, when we can all help in so many other ways. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving, too!

  2. Horace Williams Jr

    Thanks for the visit this morning Lisa. I enjoyed reading your insights here in this post! My we carry ourselves like Jesus; regardless of which role in the waltz we a living. I am learning to check my motives in every situation as I seek to glorify my Savior. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday as well. Blessings to you and yours.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’ve found the key, Horace: “I am learning to check my motives in every situation as I seek to glorify my Savior.” That’s a hard thing to do, but when we can be aware enough to do it, everyone benefits! Blessings to you, my friend.

  3. Jean Wise

    very grateful. I know when I work the food pantry I try to be open and loving and see God in the faces of all who come in. Thanks for saying so beautifully. Happy Thanksgiving, Lisa!

  4. Adam Walker

    We are all in this together…or, at least, we should be. Even though that runs contrary to the “American Way.” That’s what I love about House of the Harvest, Manna House, and other similar places. We are all equals. We are all on the same team. We are all chasing the same dream. TOGETHER. These are the types of places where we would find Jesus if He were with us physically today. Well…He might be other places too, but would likely be seen turning tables over!

    Thanks Lisa! We love you and Jeff!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Your and Jennifer’s vision AND faith to enact it has been such a huge blessing to our entire community, Adam. On both sides of the line! It’s been a beautiful thing to not only see so many people helped each week, but also see how friendships have been made. My eyes have been opened even wider to see more of God’s goodness through all that you and He and the community have done together this past year through House of the Harvest. Blessings to you and your family, Adam! We love you and Jennifer and your whole clan.

  5. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! What wonderful work you do in distributing food to those who are in need. That’s exactly what we are called to do by God, feed the hungry.
    Welcoming is such a great topic! I am writing a talk on hospitality, and that jewel of being a welcoming spirit is so key to truly being hospitable.
    May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with your loved ones, and may God bless you abundantly.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I think there is perfect connectivity between welcoming and hospitality. I’m sure your talk will be inspiring to all who are blessed to hear it! Hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday, Ceil. I didn’t get to see my own kids, but I enjoyed being with other extended family that we did eat with.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m with you, Dianne. It is humbling for me, too, to be on the other side of giving. My pride always takes a hit when I have to receive, but that’s okay, right? 🙂 Without first receiving, we have nothing to give. Still learning….

  6. BettieG

    These are such good and true thoughts Lisa! My family was on the receiving end of Thanksgiving food baskets for a few years, so that when our lot improved and we were able to be on the giving side, what a joy it was to be able to share! Now that I am learning to be on the receiving end of help with tasks, it has been a new learning process, but one that should be held with the same open heart and hands towards our Lord most of all! Thank you for sharing these beautiful Thanksgiving thoughts! –Blessings!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for making this more personal, Bettie. I think it’s more meaningful when people have seen both sides of an issue and can speak from an authentic position. Life is definitely about both giving and receiving, and we have things to learn on both ends!

  7. floyd

    Great thoughts for the holidays, Lisa.

    I’m with you; I try to live my life by that same mantra. You may have heard of it, “But by the grace of God… ‘there go i'”…

    Not too clever…

    Good job and wonderful attitude, sister.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re welcome, Lori. I need this reminder myself that it’s okay to be on both sides of this, and not be too proud to receive help, in whatever form, when I need it.

  8. Beverley

    In this season of my life i often feel like i am a taker and not much of a giver, but when an almost stranger who i had listened to and encouraged called me ‘kind’ it brought it home to me that giving doesn’t have to be a ‘thing.’

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