Giving and Receiving

3 - March, PotomacI’ve realized, as I’ve spent more and more time on this online fiction course I’m taking, that I will only get as much out of it as I put into it.

Which is common sense, of course, only obvious. A lesson I should have learned long ago, for it is true of most everything in life. In this particular case, however, there’s slightly more to it than that.

As it turns out, you can complete the requirements of the class and still miss out on one of the greatest potentials for learning that the online format provides. While you’ll still absorb good information, you won’t delve into the true gold of the course: the potential to “meet” other writers, to find people – people who love words and the craft of writing – who are willing to give you constructive criticism.

The class offers opportunities for participants to browse others’ submissions and leave comments, and it’s here that the magic happens, for it’s here that reciprocity comes into play and virtual relationships develop.

Here’s what I’ve found: when I am generous to others – reading their work and leaving thoughtful responses – they tend to be generous to me. If I put in the extra time and effort to find quality writing and to comment on it, the author of that work will, more often than not, return the favor.

It’s a beautiful concept, really, a good rule for life: generosity often begets generosity.

I thought about this idea as I washed the dishes this evening, about giving and receiving, about gaining value in this course (and in life) when I share my resources and my time and my knowledge with others. My initial reaction was that reciprocity was fine for the world, but that, in the Kingdom, we are called to be different, to give without hope of recompense.

But then I realized I had it all backwards.

Because, you see, I’ve already been given everything – the ultimate peer review, if you will – and, in giving to others, in loving them well, I am only responding to what has already been done for me.

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