When I was speaking to my uncle about the plan, he got very excited saying a he had enough guttering left over from a previous job to go around my unit - and would love to give it to me. This of course was perfect for me, as I don't make a significant wage and intend to be using as much cheap material as possible.
So a couple of weeks went by, and I got a phone call from my uncle. He had got the guttering out from under the house, cleaned it off and made arrangements for Dad and I to go pick it up. Now there is something that needs to be pointed out here. From my personal experience, I've found that people who are less well off have a tendency to be more generous than those who have plenty. Of course there will be exception, but without a doubt I have noticed it to be the case.
My uncle is one who is less well off, but is so generous with what he does have. He is a person who loves to give gifts. Giving and being generous gives him a sense of worth, and fulfils his heart. It's a way he lets people he loves them.
He is a typical tough, hard working blue-collar Aussie man who shows you he cares by buying you a beer, lending a hand when needed, and giving you whatever he can to improve your situation- and he never expects anything in return. This is the interesting part; if he were to get something in return, then he wouldn't feel like he's given a gift - rather he has just done a swap. He expects people to be able to accept his gifts.
Now my father doesn't understand that at all. His upbringing was to not be accepting of things for free 'because everything has a cost'. Basically if someone gave him something, he would give some kind of payment in return. A psychologist may read into it, saying perhaps he is too proud to accept charity, or maybe he doesn't want to feel like he owes people anything.
Family dispute over giving - read on!
I am sure there are cases where people may give gifts with the intention of manipulation, but I think you can tell when a person has that kind of a heart. But for whatever the reason, my father was adamant that we were not to take the guttering for free. In this country the typical currency for favours is beer, and so after we loaded up the trailer Dad gave my uncle half a case. He would not take any of it at all, and the more Dad insisted, the more my uncle got cranky. The situation got incredibly heated, with my uncle wanting the guttering to be a gift, while dad wanted to essentially purchase it off him.
If my uncle didn't take the beer, my father would have been offended, as my uncle would have been if Dad gave him the beer. In the end it was my uncle who was offended. Later that afternoon my uncle rang Mum, saying what had happened. He had other building materials we were going to use pick up as the project progressed, and to tell Dad not to offend him by bringing anything in return.
He wanted to show us that he loved us, and by dad forcing him to take something in return was like flicking the gift back in his face. Mum spoke to Dad, trying to explain that sometimes people just want to give, and that's it's fine to receive. He's a work in progress but he'll get there eventually.
Is there a right or wrong when it comes to the process of giving and receiving? I believe that the Lord gives us all gift, and blesses us all the time. Should we not be doing the same thing? The Lord tells us to love other as we love ourselves.
We are blessed to be a blessing to others. When we understand that is the way the Lord intended for us to live, it makes it much easier to receive. Give with a joyful heart and receive with a thankful heart!
Sam James is a Media Communications graduate based in Wollongong.
Sam James' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/samuel-james.html