Something pretty big I’m working on is learning how to receive gifts, love, offers of help, offers of support. Offers of anything selfless from one person to another scare me. I have been on the side of taking offers and then realizing they are not without expectation and reciprocation demands. I don’t have enough examples of that kind of pure love offering in my life.
So. Learning how to accept love and gifts from others is truly, deeply hard for me.
Yesterday my landlord offered me breakfast on the snow day. I said no, hemmed and hawed, and then finally realized YOU ARE ALONE IN A TRAILER WITH NO PLANS. ACCEPT THE LOVE. So I ate the homemade home fries and the eggs and sausage and watched the Oscars she recorded me. *Thank you, Kind Friend. It was tasty and loving and I appreciate it.
Sunday I went to pick up my wine club order from Bennett Winery and struck up a conversation with the only other alone person there, coincidentally sitting next to me. She got a cheese plate and asked me if I’d share it, and said it was on her. I said I’d pay the tip. It was hard to accept this gift from a stranger, but I let myself. We had a beautiful conversation about love, boundaries, divorce/breakups, elderly parents, diabetes, work, addiction, childhood trauma. It was quite extraordinary. We let ourselves be seen by each other. We told each other some hard stuff. And we will never see each other again, most likely. Sometimes, you need the stranger at the winery or on the elevator or in grocery line to help you pass through some deep troubles. I think those witnesses are sent there to us by God.
When I was in France in 1998, I went to the Cimetière du Père Lachaise that Chopin, Jim Morrison of the Doors, Proust, Sarah Bernhardt, Moliere, Bizet, Delacroix are all buried. It was insane to go there. And then it was closed. Nope, not open. I sat outside with my backpack, the aged 27 year old backpacker with a husband and daughter at home in San Francisco. There were 3 other disappointed tourists. The young man from the Czech Republic and the two young girls from the South of France. I had more $$ and therefore more food in my back. I presented cheese and meat and bread. The Czech man had an apple. The girls had no food. After the meal they offered me a tin container of amber oil. I refused initially, but the hurt on their faces told me that I had broken a cardinal sin. I accepted their tin of amber oil, and said, “I’m sorry. That is really kind of you.” I felt like I’d made a major faux pas, but really, I’d just hurt the feelings of the young French girls that were trying to love me for loving them.
I have so much to learn still. This story was from 20 years ago. I’m still imperfect at receiving.
There is plenty in the Bible about giving. Giving is better than receiving, blada blada.
BUT. If no one is receiving, who are the givers giving to? One cannot just emptily give. I must accept that others want to give to me, of their own free will and their own love. I must let God speak through them with their love and kind offers.
I am a natural giver, giver, giver.
It’s okay to be the one accepting the love and gifts sometimes.