Nothing is better than talking geeky with people who share our unique interests. My merry band of like minds comes in the form of my knitting group! Us three ladies are united by our love for fancy yarn, the frustrations of dropping a stitch and the joy of finishing a project no matter what imperfections it has! Our evenings together involve eating, drinking tea, chitter-chattering to solve the worlds problems and pausing mid-sentence to finish counting a row. We speak a secret language involving cable stitches, cross-overs and wacky pattern lingo. And the best part of it all is, we just 'get' each other.
Each time we meet up the biggest question is, what do we eat? Because lets be honest, no matter how much we adore hanging out with our 'interest sharing peeps', it's the food that we are really all showing up for! I get the great joy of being being the hostess to our secret gatherings, and although we take turns bringing in parts of our grand feast, it's a delight when I can say to my loyal knitting partners in crime, "just show up, I've got it taken care of". I get such a pleasure from caring for others, making their day easier and simply doling out joy! But this very festive Christmas version of our usual get together involved a great lesson for me in receiving.
A couple of days before our meet-up we experienced the very rare occurrence of passing each other in the hallway at work all at the same time. The topic of food came up instantly and the most experienced knitter of our trifecta said, "don't worry Lori, we've got it". To which I replied as quickly as possible and without missing a beat, "no, seriously, I can take care of desert or something". I instantly went into a nutty over-controlling panic because I didn't want to put them out, or worse appear lazy; there had to be something I could do to contribute!
It was during that irrational moment that my dear astute friend replied with a shocking truth: "oh, so it is okay for YOU to say you have it taken care of, but not us?" My jaw dropped, my heart sank and I had the most profound 'a-ha' moment. The only response I had for her was, "you just called me my mother!"
I walked away from our conversation being pelted with realizations exposing themselves to me:
- can I really understand the power of giving without being able to graciously receive?
- I adore supporting, giving and solving problems for others because it brings me joy. But when I stop others from doing the same for me, I am denying them that same elated feeling.
- Is being a gracious receiver the best way to truly experience humility?
- Do I get overwhelmed with the vulnerability it take to receive?
- Why do I not think enough of myself to allow someone to support me the way I love supporting them?
I often find my first response to someone doing something nice for me is to jump right on how I can do the same for them in return:
- Now what can I do for them to show them I appreciated their kindness?
- How can I make us 'even'?
- How can I make sure I don't look ungrateful?
- How can I prove that I love them as much?
But what craziness, that isn't what it's all about. There is no owing involved, no score to even out, no extra reassurance that you are indeed grateful. To receive with grace is to just be present with the present.
That day I discovered the power of two words that are often taken for granted... thank you. Often when we say them we don't feel like they are enough. But a heartfelt 'thank you' is the most meaningful thing a giver can receive.
Here is to a season of thoughtful giving, gracious receiving and basking in the joy of it all!