The Courage to Face Ingratitude XVII

Ingratitude is some one’s protest that you are no longer necessary to him; it is often the expression of rebellion at the discontinuance of favors. People are rarely ungrateful until they have exhausted their assessments. Profuse expressions of gratitude do not cancel an indebtedness any more than a promissory note settles an account. It is a beginning, not a finality. Gratitude that is extravagant in words is usually economical in all other expression.” ~ William George Jordan

In a world where love and blessing are treated as a commodity, where favors are traded instead of given freely, people are desperate to maintain a favorable trade balance so as not to become too indebted to and thus at the mercy of, another. Rather than live righteously, they “cook the books” using any number of tactics to create the appearance of parity in an inherently imbalanced system of payments.

Some are terrified of the game. They keep to themselves, taking great pains neither to extend nor receive favors, eschewing both giving and receiving. Others spend an inordinate amount of time digging themselves out of debt with their support network in the good times, after gorging themselves on the credit offered during the bad. Most seem to be forever trying to catch up, to get their head above water, borrowing more favors than they ever would dare to give out.

Your book of life is not meant to be an accounting ledger. Accounting has its purpose, but when it becomes the means by which life is lived, it is overreaching its purpose. Your book of life is meant to be a living record of the blessings you have sown while here on earth. Each blessing given goes out, interacts with the world around you and eventually makes its way back, albeit in a different and often unrecognizable form.

I’ve known many people who became ungrateful because the blessings they put forth did not come back to them in the timing or the form they had anticipated. Such a reaction gives evidence of an underlying limiting assumption, namely, that true giving is conditional. This basic assumption has created more sad and unfortunate endings than just about any other out there.

Sure there is ample evidence of the abuse of blessings and favors out there, but that is not reason to withhold your own. In fact, it should compel you to give more, in an effort to break the cycle of abuse. Withholding, withdrawing and shutting down in reaction to a perceived injustice only perpetuates the cycle of abuse.

Scan your world for a moment. Consider your relationships with those around you, whether they be close or distant. How do you think about them? Is there any indication that you have been keeping notations in a ledger book as to who owes whom what? If so, ask yourself “am I willing to let this book be thrown into the fire of my love for all people, great and small?” Are you willing to cook the books, once and for all?

Believe me, this is a freeing exercise.

The question is, will you dare to try it?

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7 Responses to The Courage to Face Ingratitude XVII

  1. Coco says:

    You have clearly described something that happens every day in I’ll bet every family. The accounting has been the currency that relationships are based in. Just reading this has been like hearing a melody that completely captures the heart and fills you with joy. Thank you for illuminating this seldom exposed obstacle to freedom.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Thanks for this post. Throwing away the past accounting of who owes me or who I owe marks a new beginning.

  3. Mac says:

    Loving this series of posts! Thanks.

  4. DeeDee Miller says:

    Thank you for pointing out where the real value is. I love this series!

  5. Ricardo B. says:

    Well, I sure find it to be helpful to live in a world characterized by universal justice. It frees me up to concentrate on moving along this thing called blessing we’ve been discussing. If there’s one thing in life that can bring a lasting sense of purpose and thus bring stability into your life, that’s going to have to be being someone whose identity is that of a helper. It forces one to continually draw their attention outward and protects from the perilous self-centered perspective that seems so easy to adopt in adulthood. I think it’s clear for a child to be self-centered to some degree, but not for an adult. Plus, there’s actually a sense of fittingness when you are one who is on the watch to improve things – it simply feels right as there is no trace of shame anywhere to be found, on top of the ease of your smile.

  6. David R says:

    So well described! Seeking favor, holding favor over the head of another, bartering, threatening, proffering and witholding to achieve a desired result – these are the dynamics of smallness, and we are larger, inherently, than that. The value of full, robust giving cannot be measured and should not be for sale. The moment we begin to buy and sell one another, we have sold ourselves into slavery to the world of appearance. Freedom from that awful tangle begins as we release it all in an almighty book cooking!

  7. Pingback: The Point System – Keeping Score | Dad's Primal Scream

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