I am an aficionado of refranes, adages, and proverbs. Let me share a French proverb: In love, there is always one who kisses and one who offers the cheek. Of course, in Europe a greeting is often accompanied by giving/receiving a kiss on one or both cheeks. But the gist of what is being said here, is that in love, there is one person who gives, and the other person takes. I talked two Fridays ago about an engineer’s point of reference, and that similar to my experience with some electronic equipment, in love you have to be careful in considering whose point of reference is defining the person transmitting (giving) and the person receiving (taking). Ideally, in love there is sharing, and both persons are both giving and taking – each with their own point of reference.
One interesting consideration, raised by my mother, is do we (any of us) really know if we are a “giver” or a “taker?” Seven Fridays ago I posted (my favorite post so far) on giving light, and emotional vampires (people who drain you dry). When we deal with such a person, someone who drains us emotionally, or physically, or otherwise mentally, or financially, we surely know it. We cringe at the thought of more drama. We would classify them as a “taker.” The funny thing is, the other person often does not see it that way. In fact, these people somehow manage to see themselves as “givers.” While it depends on your point of reference, surely most independent observers would agree with us that the person is a taker. But the reason a taker can see themself as a giver (I discussed last Friday), is that the heart is deceitful. And as Julius Caesar said, “In most cases men willingly believe what they wish.”
Please allow me to share one more illustration. On Mother’s Day, I had lunch in a Mexican restaurant, next to a table of at least three generations of a big family group. The grandfather was rather loud, and at one point his wife said something to calm him down. His response was to say, “see what I’ve put up with all these years?” To which one of the second generation said, “I could say look what SHE has put up with all these years.” Well, they weren’t talking about kisses and cheeks, the language had something to do with “ration of caca” (Spanish term). But the idea is the same, both grandmother and grandfather probably thought they had taken a lot of grief over the years.
A better question is, what have I given, over the years? Have I done my fair share of giving, would the person I share a relationship with agree, that at least some of the time I am a good “giver?” As I’ve discussed before, have I turned some Good Love into Better Love, with gratitude, with encouragement? And “giving” a cheek, to “take” a kiss doesn’t really count from the other person’s point of reference.
I’ve gotten to the point I hate not to include an image with each post. Well, if you “ask St Google” (Maria Victoria’s daughter Yael’s phrase) about this French proverb, you’ll find it quoted all over the internet as a French proverb. But I have been told by many French friends and acquaintances that they have never heard this proverb. One source is the WWII naval novel, The Cruel Sea (available here), which is one of the two war novels I have ever read, and a good one. It has to be good – it was written the same year I was born (1953). Here is an image of the cover.In the novel, after his boat is sunk, Morell dies as he had lived, alone. And he dies in French, his grandmother’s tongue, muttering “Il y en a toujours l’un qui baise et l’un qui tourne la joue.” This isn’t the exact French proverb quoted earlier. This would be in English, “There is always one of them who offers the kiss, and the other who turns the cheek.” Well, that offers all kinds of possibilities for discussion – turning the cheek is something Jesus said we should do, and how does that relate to giving and taking? I’ll leave that for another day.
Morell thought, and searched for a more profound set of last words after he muttered the French phrase, but he couldn’t improve on it, so he gave up and died. Was it a Good Death? He didn’t suffer for a long, long time, with lots of pain. He had the cold and exhaustion come take hold of him, had his last thought in French, and went to sleep, forever. But was it forever? We have an eternal soul, and what happens to us when we die depends on whether we recognize and accept the best gift of Best Love – We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. (I John 3:16)
King David said that he would not offer a sacrifice that cost him nothing (I Chron 21:24). God made the ultimate sacrifice for us, because of His Great Love for us. Is our love worth anything without giving, without a sacrifice, if there is no cost to us? I recently found myself asking myself just what am I willing to pay, how much am I willing to give for someone I love? Take a moment – reflect on giving, sacrificially, with no wish to take.