A child becomes a man when he stops taking and begins to give
“Psychologists tell us that a child becomes a man when he stops taking and begins to give. A sense of responsibility for others is the basic proof of emotional maturity.
Most of us can illustrate this dictum from our own observation. We know of overprotected children who, as young adults with well paying jobs, spend most of their money on themselves. They still expect dad and mom to provide them with room and board. They may be in their twenties, yet continue to take rather than to give.
This emotional immaturity, this taking rather than giving, can be ruinous to the happiness of a marriage. It characterises the husband (or wife) who seeks primarily his own satisfaction, whether in marital intercourse or in any other area of the partnership.
The essence of love
The essence of love, whether in marriage or in friendship, consists in the giving of self to the one loved. It is almost impossible for the immature person ever really to love another because he knows only how to take. To him, love is a one way street terminating in himself.
We can see this readily enough in the relationship of human to human. Perhaps it has not occurred to us that this also is true of man’s relationship to God. There is such a thing as being spiritually immature. The mark of this immaturity is, once again, the habit of taking rather than giving…
The immature Christian… aims to maintain a cosy You-me relationship with God. [He prays for personal favours, usually for material and worldly things, and expects to draw answers for his requests.] As for his relationships with other people, he keeps them on a strictly practical basis, not on the basis of a brother’s need and his own ability to help. He helps those who can be expected to help him in return. Others must look out for themselves. He is not his brother’s keeper.
There are too many immature Christians… That is why Christ has been so sorely hindered in His efforts to transform the world. That is why, after 2000 years, we still have so much poverty and ignorance, so much hatred and so many wars. Like an inept player on a football team, the immature Christian stands in Christ’s way instead of running interference for Him.
Up to this point we have been talking rather impersonally. The immature Christian is a shadowy person. He is that man or woman across the street, that fellow or girl at the next desk or machine.
Maybe. Also maybe it is that person whom I see in the mirror. There may be an awakening in store for me if I ask myself and answer in complete honesty: ‘In my spiritual life, as I live day by day, am I a giver or a taker?'”
– From: One Step Enough, Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966