The Courage of Generosity: eighth in the series Characteristics I Need in My Leader
Generosity takes courage. When you have the consistent impulse to give of yourself, continuing in the face of a world that can be pretty cold takes courage. Papabear is an excellent model of the courage of generosity. He inspires the confidences of strangers, offers help to anyone weaker than himself—most people—and shares what he has.
I make wraps and muffins and other things for Papabear to take to work so he doesn’t have to eat fast food. He will sometimes take two of whatever there is so he can share it with someone he anticipates won’t have anything that day. He does a similar thing with the two-for-one coupons when he does use fast food. He finds someone at a warehouse he’s going to who didn’t get lunch or he gives the second item to his helper. Looking for ways to share what he has makes him happy.
But what happens between us is an even better illustration of his generosity. As a sexual partner, I found him shockingly generous at first. I wasn’t accustomed to a partner who seemed to get as much enjoyment, or more, from my pleasure as from his own. Over time, I accepted how different he is, but it’s still hard for me to relax into it at times, especially given the kind of relationship we have now.
He is also generous with his time, energy, money, everything really, especially with me. I have learned to be careful what I ask for or even express an interest in because he will somehow acquire it for me if he can.
But probably the most important kind of generosity he shows is emotional. People can be cold, but he always gives them room to behave differently with him. He has never even entertained a grudge briefly as far as I can see. But also, he opens himself to me in ways that I don’t think I could emulate.
Today, for example, something happened—I won’t go into what—that fired insecurities in me that I haven’t felt in a long time. I called him at work and asked for a few minutes. When he called back, he had made room for the conversation even though he had too much to do, as usual. He listened to what I said and to what I didn’t say and understood me. He spoke gently and his voice had no trace of defensiveness. Of course, he had nothing about which to BE defensive.
The bottom line was that he went straight to acknowledging that my emotional response was a result of my loving him so much. There was nothing else to say except that we would handle the problem together when he got home.
That kind of emotional generosity takes the most courage, I think, because it requires laying oneself open to whatever barbs the other happens to throw from a bad place. It’s also very effective at creating peace and returning everything to its right place.
Clearly, I need his generosity. It’s another way his strengths bolster and heal my weaknesses.