Have you ever felt unappreciated? Have you ever given everything you’ve got to help someone only to be forgotten when your help is no longer needed? Have you ever loved someone without holding anything back only to find yourself alone when the extraordinary love you gave became ordinary? The pain from this kind of hurt can be deep, and it can discourage you from helping and loving others to avoid making the same mistake. But being kind to others is never a mistake. The mistake lies in the person who mishandled your generous act of love. You should not stop loving, giving, and being kind, just because of this. This did not happen because you were not judicious in selecting who to help. It happened because people change. People act differently when they are in need. Sickness, unemployment, loneliness, failure, and helplessness make people thoughtful, sensitive, seemingly sincere, and appreciative because they are vulnerable and need you. People who are genuine are those who remain the same way once their vulnerable situation is reversed. It is right to help someone who is in need. We are always to love fully those that God put in our lives. We cannot only choose to love those who are genuine because we would not know who they are until their true intentions manifest after their crisis has passed. It is better to love, help, and be kind to someone and look like a fool, than to miss out on helping someone who truly needs it and deserves it just because we wanted to avoid getting hurt. In Proverbs 3:27-28, it says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you” – when you already have it with you.” No one would knowingly put themselves in a situation to be taken advantage of. We all use our best judgment based on the facts that are available to us at the time. Sometimes, there is just no way to know. This should not stop us from living life fully and loving others generously. If we know the why’s to what we do, we would be willing to take risks to love and be good to others whenever it is called for.
We find meaning in life when we serve others. Nelson Henderson once said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Unless we live for something outside of seeking our own happiness, nothing that we do will satisfy. There is something about being kind and helping others. It makes us feel alive; it somehow makes us truly happy and content. True service is not transactional; we do not help or give to seek something in return. Loving others, especially if they do not deserve it or if we do not get anything in return, deeply satisfies. Tips are appreciated but not required, so to speak. We are human and it is natural to seek appreciation from others. It hurts when people we have helped take us for granted or outrightly, do not appreciate our sacrifices. Over time, we will get over it, and having realized the reward we enjoyed from having loved selflessly, our pain will turn into peace. It is for a selfish reason that I serve others; it makes me happy. So, to those whom I have helped in my lifetime, you don’t owe me anything.
In 1 Peter 4:8, it says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I am a sinner. I sin seven times seventy times and more. I have a lot of sins to cover over for. Hence, I have to love others endlessly. I need more opportunities to serve and be kind to others in order to make up for the times I have fallen short of pleasing God. I invest in a spiritual savings account from which I can draw graces from when I need them. It is for a selfish reason that I love others; it is penance for my sins. So, to those whom I have loved in my lifetime, you don’t owe me anything.
To deeply care for someone and not be reciprocated with the same can be very disappointing. The wounds from this can be deep. Eventually, we will heal though, and it will be replaced with hardened scars. Its strength will protect us from the pain of the wound it covered. Making sacrifices for others out of love is risky. This means that we give up a part of ourselves for the benefit of others. The more we give, the more it will hurt when what we gave is not appreciated or quickly forgotten. But the suffering teaches us to be grateful for the love we receive from others. It teaches us to be okay when others do not appreciate us; it builds our character. It teaches us to seek God’s approval and not human applause; it deepens our faith. It is for a selfish reason that I care for others; it helps me grow. So, to those whom I have cared for in my lifetime, you don’t owe me anything.
People have been kind to me, loved me, helped me, and cared for me. I am sure I have disappointed some in my lifetime. God loves me unconditionally and I definitely have failed Him more times than I can even count. Despite that, He has blessed me generously beyond what I deserve. It is my turn to give back to God by serving the people He sends my way. I am very thankful for each opportunity to show God how grateful I am for what He has given me and done for me, by loving the people who need to feel His presence. It is for a selfish reason that I help others; I now have an offering that might be acceptable to God. So, to those whom I have helped in my lifetime, you don’t owe me anything.
If we only do good to others when we know we will get something back, that is not service and that is without love; that is simply a business transaction. If we do something good for others and expect to get something in return, be prepared to be disappointed. It is human to seek appreciation and expect reciprocation of the love we give, but the lack of guarantee of this should not keep us from serving and loving others. To hedge against disappointment and hurt, we need to constantly remind ourselves, that people do not owe us anything. Even if people ask us for help, we always have the option to say “no.” We chose to help because we benefit from doing so. There is an inherent reward attached to doing good; we have already been compensated by the act itself. Further compensation from the recipient of our good will is not required and we are not entitled to it. So, the next time someone whom you have loved deeply and helped generously turn their backs on you after they got what they needed, give them a pass, and say, “you don’t owe me anything.”