Photo Thanks to Kirsty TG
I’m posting quotes as we go through the fuzzy zone of being new parents again in these next days. This quote comes from Parker Palmer (Let Your Life Speak, 48):
One sign that I am violating my own nature in the name of nobility is a condition called burnout. Though usually regarded as the result of trying to give too much, burnout in my experience results from trying to give what I do not possess—the ultimate in giving too little! Burnout is a state of emptiness, to be sure, but it does not result from giving all I have: it merely reveals the nothingness from which I was trying to give in the first place…When the gift I give to the other is integral to my own nature, when it comes from a place of organic reality within me, it will renew itself—and me—even as I give it away.
I was re-reading Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak for a class with students of theology the other evening. But I thought of writers when I read it. He was discussing how to honor and live one’s nature. Parker had discussed how we damage our own integrity when trying to be generous, even if we have nothing to give, all in the name of love.
When I give something I do not possess, I give a false and dangerous gift, a gift that looks like love but is, in reality, loveless–a gift given more from my need to prove myself than from the other’s need to be cared for. That kind of giving is not only loveless but faithless, based on the arrogant and mistaken notion that God has no way of channeling love to the other except through me. Yes, we are created in and for community, to be there, in love, for one another. But community cuts both ways: when we reach the limits of our own capacity to love, community means trusting that someone else will be available to the person in need.