Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. ~2 Cor. 9:7
I think this verse is an important reminder in any circumstance. In this context, we might initially assume giving could be financially or materialistically, which can make it hard to understand the depth of this verse. God is not asking us to give all our money when we are broke AND be cheerful as you are doing so. God instead asks us to give unconditionally- or without conditions. In other words, we are being asked to give out of the cheerfulness of our heart, because we want to, not with the expectation of reciprocation under any terms. And in not so many other words, we are being asked to love unconditionally, and that is the goal.
I am not going to lie, when I first read this verse, my first question was “but what if I don’t have anything to give or I don’t have any money?” My reality though, is that I have plenty of time to give but a lot of times it can be given to the wrong places, people, and things. Now I am a big proponent of having boundaries so that you do not wear yourself out but in a life where so many things around us are competing for our attention, it is hard to have leftover time and energy or even money. So, what do you do if you are broke or just do not have any energy left? Well, the first part of this verse tells us that we should give what we have decided to give in our hearts. Not more than we have, but what is already there. When you give intentionally and without condition to meet someone else's needs, it can be the most fulfilling.
I recently had a doctor's appointment with a new doctor, and she was asking me the routine questions and then asked if I volunteered. I thought this was a random and out-of-place question, so I hesitated a bit. She then explained that they have found that those who volunteer are healthier and generally happier people. I did not think of this conversation until now but...wow...how perfect! (Ok God, I see you helping me connect the dots...)
So, there is a direct correlation scientifically between those that give unconditionally and their health and well-being!
Volunteering is inherently giving without expecting anything back which is why it is such a big deal in religious spaces, although I feel like it has become washed with expectations and unhealthy boundaries. But at the end of the day, there is a reason why it is such a big deal, even if it is for a little bit, you can make such an impact on someone’s life in that short time.
Giving when you feel like you cannot catch a break is the hardest thing to do and a lot of times we expect things back, especially in those times, which is completely understandable. But we must remember we are not being asked to give everything, we are being asked to give what we can. Do not drain yourself giving, instead reflect on how much you can give without condition and go from there. Unconditionally means having intention and thought with space to set healthy boundaries. All of us are positioned differently across time and space, so we cannot expect to give the same, and that is ok.