When You Feel Like Others Are Taking Your Giving Heart For Granted, Remember This

Recognition.

It’s something we all crave, right? I mean, I can’t be the only one who loves giving but has a hard time not receiving credit once in a while. Let’s be honest, it can make giving difficult and even hurtful sometimes. Isn’t it interesting how we think we have the heart to give so unconditionally but then we become tired, weary, and irritable when our goodness seems to run dry?

For me, one of the biggest moral questions is: Do I want to be a giver or a taker?

I’m sure we’d all like to believe that we are genuine givers, and to an extent, that is true. We can all give. We can buy someone a cup of coffee, we can be an ear for someone who needs advice, we can tithe, we can help a friend with their work, but can we always do this unconditionally?

Questions such as these can make us feel misunderstood, alone, or confused and make us ponder if we are truly doing the right thing with pure intentions. It’s been hard to crush my pride and admit that for me, no, I cannot always do this with the giving heart I desire to consistently have. But does this mean my intentions aren’t where they need to be?

I don’t think so.

When I gave my life to Christ, I declared that I’d put in the work to be a better person, and it took me a while to know what that looks like in all forms. Heck, I still have to take a step back and give myself an attitude check now and then. But I’m committed to trying to learn and exemplify what being a better person looks like. Whether that means performing random acts of kindness, choosing compassion, having pure intentions, and learning about what true sacrifice looks like.

Going into the season of giving has me thinking a lot about what it means to truly give with a selfless heart. I can’t help but wonder why those who give so much tend to reach a point where they become resentful because of a lack of recognition.

Can I be honest and vulnerable for a minute? Maybe some of you will relate.

How often do we think:

“I do, and people don’t recognize”

“I do, and people don’t even care”

“I do, and people just take me for granted”

I want to share these thoughts of mine in case you feel you don’t have the freedom to admit it. You can and absolutely should allow yourself to acknowledge that this is a human feeling and that it’s not that we intend to avoid doing what is good for others, but it’s a reminder of how that goodness can have a limit if we don’t set healthy boundaries.

The more you let your mind fixate on thoughts such as, “People take me for granted,” and “I do so much for everyone and nobody cares,” the more you’re going to want to give with the hope that those you’re giving to will reciprocate, but if they don’t, this is where resentment can be passive-aggressively displayed.

Is this what it truly means to give if we’re doing it with this sort of subconscious intention that they may potentially fulfill our needs? We can’t ignore what God has been so faithful to give already. We must acknowledge that we are limited human beings and we can’t overextend ourselves by giving so much, that we give with a resentful heart rather than a generous heart.

2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

It has taken me a long time to invest in two important truths: one, we all have needs but you are the one responsible for expressing what they are. As much as you may want them to, people are not going to read your mind or assume what those needs are. I encourage you to voice your needs humbly for the sake of the fruitfulness of your relationships, but remember this most important truth: that absolutely no one will abundantly fulfill your needs as Jesus will.

As I recognize these truths, I can’t help but sympathize with how Martha felt when she got frustrated with Jesus about Mary not helping her. She felt as though she gave and gave, and yet all she could get her mind to focus on was what Mary was not doing to assist her. Little did she know, Mary was doing exactly what she was supposed to – listening to the Lord.

In Martha’s assumption of what role she thought Mary should be fulfilling, I acknowledged the idea of expectations and how familiar it is for us to hold people to them, especially those we love most or think highly of.

We all have expectations for people to an understandable degree.

We expect our parents to take care of us. We expect teachers to teach us. We expect people to consistently contribute. We expect fairness. We expect our loved ones to show up for us when we need them, just like Martha and Mary expected Jesus to show up for their brother when he was dying. We see Jesus’ consistency again here when He raised Lazarus from the dead. This is a truthful example of God working beyond what we are preferring to understand; even when their expectations didn’t feel met at the time, He exceeded those expectations, leading them to the reminder of the faith that they declared to have and know that His consistency was far bigger than what they were feeling.

I could spend a lifetime choosing to get upset at people for not exemplifying fairness or not meeting what feel like understandable expectations. I could also tell you about the countless times I, like Martha, came to God in frustration about how people aren’t fulfilling the roles I thought I needed them to. Remember when I said that I declared to be a better person, but still have to put myself in check? Well… here I am again.

Notice how I said again?

God is constantly calling us by name, welcoming us to know Him in deeper ways while fulfilling our commitment to have faith, especially when people let us down and situations that occur are beyond what we prefer to understand. Truthfully, we are not required to always understand why people act the way they do or why they may not appear to be as giving as we anticipated, but God always has a plan to turn around what seems so unfair and unjust into something beautiful and redemptive.

I’ll admit, the whole “express your needs” thing is not my strong suit. I care so much about giving to others, I couldn’t even tell you what I want half the time, and I’m still figuring out what my needs are and how to express them.

I heard a wise person once say, “What are God’s intentions for me and how do I display that today?”

I may not be great at knowing what I want or need, but I know this for sure: What I do want is to always have a faith like that.

One that focuses on the bigger picture. One that doesn’t seem so clear at first but ends up being much more fulfilling than what my emotions were blinding me from seeing. One that gives with a full heart because God is giving me a need, not because I’m trying to prove that I am the one people can rely on. One that chooses to trust in what I cannot see while I wait for my feelings to catch up.

To give God my recognition and all my needs is a type of faith I’ll spend a lifetime trying to understand, but He hasn’t let me down yet. People won’t always choose to acknowledge your needs, but Jesus chose yours first—before His own, even.

I’ll forever try to fathom the selflessness of a love like that, and in that way, I desire for my love for people to reflect His. That right there is the best form of giving.