On Giving What You Want

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King.

There was a time in the distant past, when I was an eager churchgoer. I had recently moved to a big city, and had neither relatives nor friends living close by. So, I took to a church in my vicinity as a way to socialize, and with the hope of finding like-minded people.

At first, attending Sunday services was both a curious and intimidating experience. The curious part is that I actually enjoyed the services. The intimidating part was that everybody seemed to know each other, personally. I felt like an outsider.

Yet I turned down every invitation, from the friendly members of the congregation, to stay for tea after services. I suddenly didn’t feel like a chit-chat. I was always making excuses, too precious of my time. For someone who was there to socialize, I was doing a bad job at it. But some members of that community never gave up, and one day I finally gave in and stayed for tea. Till this day, I remain in touch with a few close acquaintances I made from that exercise.

The moral of the story? I learned from that experience, and other similar ones, that you have to give what you want to receive.

So, the question is what are you giving to others, in these uncertain times?

note: This piece was inspired by Rosemary’s post on the value of community.

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. That is so true, Khaya. I was shielded from March to August, only catching a glimpse of the postman and delivery people. But a wave and a smile were all it took to get a wave and a smile back, which made the high points of my day.

  2. Very inspirational I love “that you have to give what you want to receive.” I certainly believe that

  3. By going to the church you gave a little of yourself and encouraged others to welcome you and hope you would return.

  4. Thank you, Marja. If we can always remember to give, even without the expectation of receiving something back. It’s a rewarding act.

  5. I like the idea of giving a little of oneself, Robin. Because by so doing we give to ourselves in return, and there’s joy in that.

  6. I so much can identify with every word of your poem. Self introspection does the trick, everytime

    Happy Sunday. Stay safe


  7. “Give what you want to receive” … what a valuable life lesson! One of my favorite quotes is by Edwin Markham … “There is a destiny that makes us brothers, none lives his life alone, What we send into the lives of others comes back into our own”. I enjoyed your write very much.

  8. Your question is a challenge to all of us in these troubling times.

  9. The other day, a writer friend who hadn’t seen me (or read my words) in years, asked me what happened to my dark and bloody writings. “All your new stuff is hope and cheer,” he said. I smiled, thinking, If you read more than one bit, you’ll probably run into the doom and gloom dancing with the hope and cheer–I do like balance. But I didn’t tell him that. I just said that these days, too many people are hurting and losing hope; when the world is this messy, it’s just so difficult to find things to be happy about. So, I share the cheer I see… in hope others will too. But your “Give what you want to receive” is a much better answer.

  10. Kind words whenever I can. I sprinkle those suckers everywhere. I ended up getting into a nice (and socially distant conversation) with a lady shopping in the same aisle as me in the supermarket the other day. I think we both enjoyed having a fairly normal-ish conversation even if we were several feet away and projecting our voices through our masks.

  11. This is such a great example Khaya. I had a brunch at my house once, and one of the women came in, sat as far away from everyone else, and then complained later that she didn’t feel included. We have to give what we want to receive.

  12. I sometimes have to learn to say ‘yes’ to things that won’t happen again. I consider myself an essential worker as a grandmother to my grandsons.

  13. What you have said is true. I am thankful for those who never gave up on me, and do remind myself not to give up on others.

  14. In these rather strange and different times, I find kindness a good thing to give.

    I like the flowers in your picture.

    Have a good September.

    All the best Jan

  15. That is so true, too many people are hurting these days. So, I definitely thank you for the cheer. I often find myself chuckling at your delightful poems about your urban garden and the stories you come up with from your eaves dropping. 😀 Keeping balance is the goal. May we keep up the cheer regardless of autumn’s contemplative mood!

  16. Some people live alone, and it can be extremely hard in these days of quarantine and social distancing. So, yes please keep up the good work, and get those “suckers” out there. 😀

  17. Yours is a classic example, Kathy. Sometimes, I think people can be in such a bad space emotionally that they can’t even see flaws in their own behaviour. And yes we certainly have to reach out, if we want to be included.

  18. I think you are right Colleen about being an essential worker. Grandmothers play a big role in the upbringing of their grand children. And saying yes is a great way to give, too.

  19. You make a good point of reminding oneself not to give up on others. It is not always easy but we ought to keep trying. Thanks Lavinia for popping by.

  20. As they say, constant kindness can accomplish much. We need it more than ever before. Thank you Jan, and happy autumn!

  21. What a lovely story, Khaya, not only about your realization but about the persistence of your church community. Kindness is never wasted. <3

  22. That’s true.. you have to give what you expect to receive…it really is up to us… excellent point to reinforce.

  23. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…
    Give without any expectation of receiving
    Shakespeare said expectation is the root of all heartache
    So the message is do not give to get
    Give because it is better to be a giver than a taker
    The world is divided into these two groups
    Givers and Takers
    Anything received along the way to a Giver is a welcomed surprise bonus

  24. Great wisdom in your comment, Rall. I especially like the first one. It’s my ready answer to quote, each time I’m asked about bullying, discrimination and some such injustices.

  25. Interesting. I went to a church in my village out of curiosity, perhaps, with no intention to return. But I did, and it not only became our family church, but that became a hugely important community in our family’s life. Even when we moved far away, we drove back for Sunday services. (I think you read about it in my second book, An Honest House.)

  26. Oh yes, indeed. I read from your book about how hugely important your church community is. Church community proves to be another brilliant way of connecting with people and supporting each other. I’m grateful for that experience.

Do leave a trace!