Giving vs. Receiving: Growing Older & Extreme Frustration

Mom, Her Mom, and Me - 1973

Mom, Her Mom, and Me – 1973

Change is constant when we age, and it’s important for adult children occasionally to consider the changes in our elder parents’ lives by looking through the prisms that our parents gaze through and thoughtfully examining their perspectives.

In a conversation with my mom — who has found herself less energetic and more dependent on others — she shared her journal essay about the many changes in her life. Mom expressed her sometimes vexation with elderhood while also analyzing what causes her to often feel so frustrated.

She wrote that she had often presented talks based on the Bible verse in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give to receive.” Mom noted that as she has aged, she’s realized that while there is much discourse on the “giving” aspect of the verse, there is little, if any discussion on the idea of receiving. She feels unprepared for a time in life — right now — when she gives less and receives  more. Mother’s insightful piece was published in the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community publication, “What’s Up at VMRC?

In her journal essay my mother writes:                     

  • As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered that I am not able to give myself because I have less physical energy, so I often give money when I cannot do things personally. Now I am receiving support or assistance and give nothing in return except a “thank-you.”
  • One day I found myself on the CARE list of my church, and assistance was offered with food, errands, and rides — all helpful since we not longer drive — but my husband and I have never considered ourselves to be receivers, and accepting is not always easy.
  • These days I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about how to receive gracefully and gratefully, but also about how to still be a giver.
  • Today my husband and I focus on the blessings received from God. Among them are opportunities to share our experience and acquired wisdom, to reward others with thanks when they give to us, to discern what is good for our bodies and relationships, and to trust that God’s perspectives on giving and receiving, in spite of our earlier assumptions, may be different from ours.

I was amazed and, yes, grateful for this essay, but it was my cousin, Dave, who talked with me about Mom’s writing and pointed out that I should remind her that she gave me a gift when she wrote and shared this essay.

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