Most of us have heard the expression “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” at some point, right? But why do we say that?
Whether you see a moral dilemma or a purely practical one in loaning out anything of value, my answer simplifies both.
Never “lend” anything that you can’t afford to lose. Instead of calling it a loan, just give the money or items away. If your friend returns it to you someday, terrific! If not, then you weren’t expecting them to do so anyway, and everything is still fine.
By making it a gift (and only giving to friends if you’re worried about the character of the recipient – you did see me include that part, right?), you remove the expectations, the fear, the disappointment, and the potential sense of loss – because you already didn’t need what you gave away.
This way, if they ever offer to return to you those things or that money, then THEY can make it a gift back to YOU. And if you don’t need it at that time, you can give it to someone else who might.
The entire cycle of giving and receiving is healthier this way, and no strings need be attached to anything. Ever!
If you have to request something from a friend that you need, and you intend to return it in the future, it is always your choice to view it that way. But you’ll both feel better if you just ask, and they give, without a sense of debt hanging over either of you.
If this idea seems new and unusual to you, let me offer another perspective to help.
With a gift to a stranger (of money, food, clothes, or anything else you donate to someone who may be in need), you wouldn’t expect to get that gift back anyway, right? With donations, you can relieve yourself of goods you don’t need, food you wouldn’t eat, or money in excess of what you need to live comfortably (at least right now). AND you gain the satisfaction of knowing that you helped another person or family who does need what you gave.
Gifts among friends make sense, too. Why not enrich a friendship with gifts, rather than strain it with unhealthy expectations and obligations?
Give yourself the gift of grace today, and see what other treasures it helps you to discover.