Service: A Gift Given Freely by Emily Loren M. Opida

“Exchange Gifts” is one of our favorite Christmas activities in our schools and offices. We all prepare for the event and announce that we will exchange gifts. We love giving things often because we are excited to receive something in return. This is a manifestation of our human need to feel recognized and loved, and at the same time to express our love for another person. Usually, the gifts we exchange have a set price range so that we everyone will give each other gifts of equal value. No one dares to give a more expensive gift only to receive one of lesser value. We try to give the same value, in the hopes of receiving the same value.

This need to reciprocate manifests in my life. In my business, I feel that I receive a lot of kind praises and this makes me want to “give back” as well. In the past, I did not know how to give and in what form.

As the saying goes: “ask and you shall receive”. I remembered to ask God to show me a way to volunteer and to give. It was truly a miracle when I was called to become part of the Single Young Adults (SYA) Team 32. From this I realized that I give, because I received.

As humans, we struggle with delayed gratification. We are always in search of an immediate reward when we do a good deed. Though I accepted and volunteered for tasks, there were days when I would ask, “Now what”? I did not see what benefits I would gain from volunteering for 6 months without reward, of spending my own money and energy, without knowing what I will get out of it. This was made worse by the opinions of people around me who don’t believe in what I am doing, and who think that it is unimportant.

Despite my questions, little by little, I saw that I was receiving gifts from Him. I have wonderful little achievements for my small business. From these, I am again energized to keep on doing the volunteer work. Gradually, I began to see that I receive many blessings, and this would give me the energy to joyfully serve the community.

This made me reflect on how much worth of service I really give. Isn’t it empty if I expect it to be reciprocated? How much value do I give to service? To what extent do I say that I give because people deserve it, not because I was given it as well?

Didn’t God give us a lot more before we were born? I guess the real preparation for Christmas is learning to give the greatest value and service to people even if it feels excessive, unrewarding, draining and unreciprocated. We take this challenge because the birth of Jesus brought joy and love and this was the first and greatest gift we have.

Photo by Rocky Chan