Many years ago, the mariner gave a sermon on the values of gifting, giving and sharing. He had forgotten about that sermon until today when he had a shared moment with a friend.
To gift someone requires two entities that usually are not equal in some way. One may gift (bestow to) a child an automobile; one may gift (contribute to) a charity; one may gift (grant permission) internal organs; one may gift (enable) a jobless person by sponsoring them to a potential employer. The inequality is apparent. The inequality is usually what generates the act of gifting. Gifting is a good thing all of us should do more often. However, one can’t help but notice how procedural the experience is; participants don’t necessarily even know one another.
Giving is slightly different. While not necessary in every instance, the participants usually know one another because the difference between gifting and giving is the presence of empathy when one gives. Giving is a deliberate attempt to lend a hand in some personal way. Still, there’s a bit of protocol when one gives; perhaps it’s giving a birthday present or lending one’s second car to a neighbor. The giver must, in some manner, approach and present what is given. Many people have trouble accepting something given to them that was not earned. God bless Max Weber.
Sharing is not gifting. Sharing is not giving. Sharing requires a profound respect that requires no protocol. No one need say a word. Sharing requires some form of bonding. Nothing is expected; nothing is presented. There is no visible inequality. Sharing is highly sophisticated because each participant must be sensitive to what is required; empathetic to when to share and when not to share; understand that reciprocity is not based on protocol or is a way of “balancing things.”
When the mariner was taking a college class about theology, he learned that, in the New Testament, the ancient Greeks had three words for “love:” EROS, which is romantic love; PHILEO, love among friends; and AGAPAO, unconditional love. At a minimum, sharing requires phileo.
Good marriages – the ultimate in sharing – are based on agapao. Time steals a great deal of romanticism. Real life circumstances can put the marriage through some tough patches when friendship may be difficult to manage but if the bottom line is to be unconditionally supportive, the marriage will last.