“You cannot give what you do not have”
-from ‘A Course in Miracles’
This definition is fairly simple in material terms. If you have a favorite charity you wish to help out financially you must first have the money yourself. If you wish to borrow your neighbor a cup of sugar, you must have a cup of sugar to borrow. What many people fail to grasp is how this relates to things of a non-material nature. It especially holds true in people who consider themselves to be ‘givers’ or care-takers. Quite often I see people so give of themselves they end up depleted. In some ways I throw myself in this category. Have you ever found it difficult to say ‘no’ to a friend who is asking for your help? Have you ever found yourself stretched a little thin? Do you even feel guilty if you have to turn someone down because you are sick or even just exhausted? If so you may want to consider that quote. What can seem so obvious to us in a material sense holds just as true in the emotional sense as well. If you do not have love for yourself, it is nearly impossible to give the best of you and your love to anyone else. If you are tired and irritable you will not be the best friend to spend time with. If your mind is racing on a million different issues you will not be the best person to listen to your friends challenges. In all these cases we must take care of ourselves in order to best take care of others. Much like the need to have the money to make the charity donation, the more love we have for ourselves, the more we can give to others. The more we learn to forgive ourselves for our own mistakes the easier it is to do the same for others. It is not often the material can teach us a spiritual lesson, but in this case before you agree to lend your neighbor that cup of sugar be sure you have one in your own kitchen!