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DeBellotte Design

DeBellotte Design

Generosity: “A contract with hidden terms”

Updated: Apr 18

Have you ever had a loved one, a friend, someone who cared for you, grew up with you, or who you grew fond of over the years? Have they, when things didn’t seem to go their way, remind you of everything they have done for you? Have you done something for others, not for them but for your gratification?

We all have been guilty of this at least once, but let’s focus on when we become victims. At some point in our lives, we learn or have a clearer vision of people’s true intentions. I knew this after a minor incident, which I realize shouldn’t have escalated the way it did, but you can be the judge of this. For many years, this incident played a significant role in my personal growth, but I’ve been able to work through it for myself, whether received or not. I tried voicing my concerns about what happened more than once to relieve my conscience, but instead of trying to understand my point of view, they played the victim.

Setting the stage…

One Sabbath morning at church, I was talking to a church member. While conversing, I saw my aunt walk in, carrying food. I was talking to someone, so I decided to finish. I noticed she left after I finished. I can’t remember if it happened when I entered the sound room or minutes later, but my phone started ringing. It was my aunt. On the phone, my aunt was crying. Overall, she was saying, “How could you treat me like that? You saw me and didn’t even acknowledge me. What could I have ever done to you?”

To start, she had every right to say and feel the way she did. If that were me, I would be sad not to be acknowledged. However, I wouldn’t have acted the way she did. But of course, I can’t compare her to myself. Listening to her on the phone made me resent her. I was not too fond of how she carried herself on the phone. In my opinion, she felt like she was so important that I had to stop what I was doing and acknowledge her immediately. Of course, I could have if I wanted to, but I didn’t. There was more to it, but it didn’t affect what I had learned and seen myself regarding her personality. A personality that didn’t sit right with my spirit. Her next steps only validated or added to my observation and perspective of her character. It was all coming to light. I thought the problem was resolved, but I was wrong.

What she did next and continued to do took this to another level—an unforgivable level.

After I spent the night reflecting on and questioning her actions, I received a call the following day. I was half asleep but overheard the house phone after not answering. When I finally got up, I was told to call my aunt. My dad and I spoke and noticed she had updated him. My dad has had years of experience with her, so he understood what happened and told me to call back and apologize again.

I thought this was over, but clearly, it wasn’t. I called my aunt back when I was ready, and here is where I lost all respect. On the phone, she expressed, again, how she was hurt and cried by what I did. Asking, ‘How could I do that? What has she ever done to me for me to treat her that way?’ Then she started reflecting on what she had done for my other church brothers and sisters, how she was there for them, how they respected her and told her their good news. She also reflected on what she had done for my sister and me when we were younger and after our mom passed. I was so annoyed listening but realized her actions; however, they were admirable endeavors and acts of love, which weren’t genuine selfless love.

I started to pull away entirely and couldn’t forgive her for how she acted. When I thought this was over, she brought up the history of what she has done for us. I explained over 7-8 years how her behavior affected me, but I couldn't get my point of view of getting across, so I needed to move on. Today, our relationship is entirely different. I have forgiven her, not only for her but for myself. I had to place my own set of boundaries, whether it was received or not. Because of her prominent role in the life of my family and church family, I can’t run and hide forever. However, my words are few, and our encounters are slim. Everything happens for a reason, and I thank God for showing me her true intentions and how to enforce my boundaries better.

I could go into great detail, but someone said it best:

“When someone says, ‘after all I’ve done for you…’ they are revealing that what they did for you was not for you at all, but for their own need to control you. Their generosity was a contract with hidden terms.”

Beware of those that continuously do things for you without you even asking. It may seem harmless, but they might end up using it against you when they can’t seem to have their way. Definitely “for their own need to control you.” Try to sift through who they are, and what they plan to do to see if their intentions are pure or they aren’t doing something that can easily be back in their favor. Sometimes its completely harmless and they really mean well, but different perspectives can blur the lines of ones true intensions. You have to make sure you understand the fine print before getting caught up in their generosity. Their ‘contract with hidden terms.’.

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