Defeating Materialism

“Giving is gaining.” This is what my mom has always taught me. I never understood what she meant as a young girl.

My family was not so well-off for most of my lifetime. Granted, we never struggled to find meals or were left homeless; but there were countless times when my parents worried about whether they could pay for our house rent.

But in the midst of the worries, if there was someone in need financially, my mom would give whatever money she had to help that person, without the guarantee that that person will pay her back.

I resented my mom for that at one point in my life to be honest. Of course she has no money to cover the rent! She’s spending it on other people. How stupid. These were the thoughts that I had as a young girl who didn’t know better.

Growing up, I now realize that my mom was a wise woman. She built connections and bolstered relationships. She invested in people, not things. She invested in what lasts, not what fades away. And now, I genuinely admire my mom for that.

I am challenged by her actions constantly. Just recently, my friend borrowed my earphones (quite expensive ones). When she returned them, they were totally ruined. She told me her cat had messed them up and apologized repeatedly. She even offered to buy me new ones.

Initially, I was very angry. But I looked at things from her perspective: she borrowed earphones from a friend, left it on a table, found them ruined, and now she is panicking because she anticipates her friend will be very angry and realizes she does not have have enough money right away to pay for her friend’s new earphones.

Thinking about it this way, my rage turned to sympathy, and I told my friend she doesn’t need to worry about it. But she kept insisting that she’ll get me new ones, so I just told her to take her time and that even if she can’t buy me new ones, I told her to promise me to not be awkward with me or avoid me because she feels bad. She hugged me tight and treated me to Chipotle that day.

I may have lost my earphones but I kept that friend.

I think, perhaps, this was what my mom was endeavoring to teach me when she said that giving is gaining. I simply thought gaining had to do with material possessions, but she meant gaining people.

To this day, there are so many people offering to help my family whenever we’re in need. For instance, when I was super sick last time from a cold, one of my dad’s friends offered to pick me up and drop me off at the urgent care, and a family friend of mine made porridge and visited my home. These are all people whom my parents helped out when they were struggling financially, emotionally and physically.

They’re all our treasures now.

Giving builds connections. I remember I made one of my best friends in elementary school by telling her that she can use any of my pencils and pens in my pencil case whenever she forgets to bring her own. In return, she always shared some of her most delicious snacks with me during lunch time.

Whenever we give, we actually gain what is more valuable than money: relationships.

I read a post one time, in which the writer articulated that our society today is full of problems because we exploit people to make money and not the other way around.

I, personally, sincerely desire to be an individual who values people more than things. This becomes challenging, the older I get, as I begin to perceive all the good and beautiful things I can acquire with money. But it becomes easier when I have people around me to remind me that they’re certainly worth my sacrifices.

I hope that you, dear reader, also build relationships and surround yourself with people who make you think that sometimes, losing is soooooo worth it.

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