I heard a story a while ago about motives. Forgive me for not remembering the exact words but I think you will agree it is an effective thought provoking tale.
It is about a man who loves his wife. He knows she is a wonderful woman and is proud of her. He does not doubt her loyalty to him. He sees how beautifully she keeps the home and how much effort she puts in to keeping the whole family looking smart and remaining healthy. He truly loves his wife.
He takes his wife out one day and as they are walking along, she suddenly becomes distracted by something. He turns around to see his wife is staring into a shop window with her nose pressed up against the glass. Inside the window is a dress, a very beautiful dress that has caught her attention. He remarks to his wife that it is a pretty dress. She says “It is gorgeous!” He asks his wife how much it costs, to which she responds, “Oh don’t worry, I am only looking,, it is too expensive really. I just thought it was beautiful.”
After the day together, the man thinks about how his wife was gazing at the dress she thought was so beautiful. He thinks about how much he loves his wife and how good she is to him and the family. He decides he will buy her that dress she liked as a gift. A surprise. She will not be expecting it, their anniversary is three months away. It will be a way just to show how much he loves and appreciates her.
So he goes back to the shop the next day and takes a closer look at the dress. He discovers the price and is a little horrified at first and is inclined to think about looking for a dress that is much less expensive, but then he remembers he wants to show his wife how much he loves her. He has even gone to the trouble of looking at the size of her other dresses in her closet to make sure he will pick the correct size. He buys the dress and he asks the store assistant to wrap it carefully in gift-paper and include a large bow.
He takes the gift home and sneaks it into the bedroom for his wife to find later. That evening he is with her when she finds the box with her surprise inside.
She unfastens the bow and removes the lid from the box. She takes the protective crepe paper that is around the dress. She cannot believe her eyes. It is that dress, the beautiful dress she saw in the window. She is so thrilled. She embraces her husband. He smiles like a cheshire cat as he observes her reaction. She tries the dress on. Will it fit? It fits! It fits perfectly. She twirls around and looks at the dress in the mirror.
Who is the best husband in the world???!!!
She is so ecstatic. She embraces her husband again and thanks him with tears in her eyes. She looks up at him and thanks him and asks him why he has given her such a beautiful gift now out of the blue?
Then… he opens his mouth and ruins everything:
“Well….you have been looking kind of tired and miserable lately. And I know you have put weight on because you have been comfort eating. You have been rather irritable with me and the kids.”
The dress comes off. The dress is back in the box. “Take it back! Take it back! I don’t want it. You think I’m fat and miserable and I look tired. You think I am irritable! Take it back!”
Well, you may feel for the husband a little here. But doesn’t this little story show that it’s not just the gift but the motive that counts. It is very likely that when we give we do deep down have genuine motives. But how does our gift come across?
The gift might not be a dress, it might be our time, our words, our listening ear, cooking a meal for someone or any kind of token. But is there a question mark over why we are giving? Is it begrudgingly given? Do we feel it is a compulsory must to give something, but give little thought to the gift? Or do we say or do something which spoils the gift and takes all the joy out of it?
Ever since I heard that story…I have tried to think things through a bit more when it comes to any giving…I don’t want to be in a rut of doing things by rote without putting my heart in to them. I want the gift I give to send a message that is harmony with the rest of my thoughts towards the recipient.
Someone super wise was reported to say “There is more happiness in giving, than in receiving”. That is a super lovely truth that I don’t ever want to lose sight of.