I’m literally surrounded by people who are incredible givers. They share their time with no other motivation other than giving. They serve without hesitation. Their capacity for compassion seems unlimited. I've thought more times than once how much I want to follow their lead and be a better giver.
However, I have to say, I don’t think I've ever given any thought to being a better receiver. But when I think about it, I probably should have! Interesting that it’s often easier to give help, than it is to receive it. Maybe you feel the same way? How often do the words, “No, I’m fine,” come - even though we’re doing everything we can to hold back the tears or when we’ve completely reached the end of our rope? How often do we turn away a friend who’s ready and willing to step in and listen with love or spend some time helping us get past the overwhelm?
Though I’d so much rather be on the giving end, than receiving, I’ve spent a lot of time this past year on the receiving side of things. In fact, I’ve lost count of how many thank you notes I’ve written! And for all the tears I’ve cried over feeling I’ve been a burden, my health (yet again) has made it impossible for me to say “no.” Being able to take care of my family and home, let alone myself has literally been out of my reach. It’s been hard, but it’s also been beautiful (and humbling) to see so much service and compassion from this perspective, the receiving viewpoint. I know it doesn’t come close to doing it justice, but I wanted you to see even just a glimpse of what this service has looked like these past few weeks, through the eyes of a receiver - through my eyes.
It’s amazing to me how so much of the blessing of generosity and kindness is the love it expresses - not just the act of service itself. All incredible acts of service and compassion. So much love! From this perspective, service and compassion are love. And just like love, it goes both ways. Giving and receiving. Loving and being loved. So I’ll continue striving to more generously give. And perhaps it's just as important to learn to receive with grace. To quiet the voice that says, “I should be able to do anything and everything, all on my own. I shouldn’t need help.” Or “There are people who need the help so much more than I do.”
- Never needing to expend my tiny reserve of energy on worrying about my kids - not once - during an unexpected hospital stay. When an outpatient procedure turns into five days in the hospital, there’s plenty to be worrying about. The gift of knowing my little ones were being cared for and loved (not to mention, having the time of their lives!) is more than I could ask for and I’m sure played a huge role in my ability to focus on recovering.
- Sitting on a chair in the hospital shower while my husband and mom gently scrubbed me clean. I was itchy after laying in a hospital bed for days on end. Rather than uncomfortable or embarrassed, I could only feel grateful for them doing what my sick, weak body couldn’t do for itself.
- A hospital room brightened by flowers.
- The strong arms of my patient husband helping me make countless trips to the bathroom. (Those arms even caught me a few times and saved me from landing on the hard hospital floor in a heap.) And just as grateful for the hands of the nurses who would manage the oxygen and IV cords trailing behind me.
- Safety. Matt never had to leave my side due to the amazing support and understanding of an employer who graciously allowed flexibility and time away from work.
- Visits, smiles, and encouraging words from family. The best way to describe what they were for me… sunshine. Warm, rejuvenating, bright, happy, healing.
- A cot being wheeled in by a nurse, so busy with the maximum number of patients, yet taking the time to make an exhausted caregiver’s - my husband’s - sleep at the hospital more comfortable.
- People creating space in their busy lives to stay with the kids and me once we were home and Matt was back to work. Diaper changes, feedings, walks to the park, Playdoh snakes, trips up and down the stairs, giving me someone to talk to. Two full weeks of nothing but service to my family and me.
- Watching my husband eat a delicious, full meal that he didn’t need to worry about cooking. I couldn’t even begin to describe how much this incredible man has had to carry through all this. Knowing someone had taken something, anything, from his shoulders brought me to tears more than once.
To let go of the disappointment that others have to step in to do “my job.” And to look past the way things are being done (which isn’t necessarily “my way”) and instead be grateful that they’re being taken care of. To realize that my prayers are heard even when they’re not answered the way I would hope for. And to recognize the angels He sends instead to ease the burden. To pray and hope that the blessings these givers receive for serving is even more than the blessing their service has been to me. To be a giver whenever I can. And when I can’t… choose to smile in gratitude.
Choose to let love in.