Saturday, August 8, 2009

Learning to Be Grateful

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe everyone has been charitable at some point or another. People give to those in need in huge numbers. Perhaps you donate to a favorite cause, or you've prepared a meal for someone who has experienced loss, or you adopt a family over the holidays and buy gifts they otherwise wouldn't have. Or maybe your giving is the gift of time as a volunteer, tithing to the church, preparing food at a soup kitchen, or simply comforting and talking to the lonely. We've all “been there, done that” - just some more than others. But what happens when you are the recipient of all that giving? Have you been?

Blessed with friends and family that are unbelievable at lending support and help, recently, I’ve been heavy on the receiving side. My friend had a household item repaired for me – something she knew wasn’t a priority in my current financial situation, but something she knew I would love to have fixed. The Chevy I am driving belongs to my parents – they loaned it on pretense and immediately began calling it mine. Even businesses I frequent have bartered. And there’s been more. It’s been an incredible journey throughout this period of under- and unemployment.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the barrage of emotion that would go along with these gifts and acts of kindness.

Most obvious, of course, is the direct joy and pleasure resulting from these expressions of love. To know that people care, and care so deeply, is undeniably mind-boggling. It is a true reflection of fellowship and community, and of complete selflessness and generosity.

But on the flip side, and where I’ve been surprised, are my conflicting sentiments. I feel beholden, that I need to repay these offerings, but how? What could I possibly do to repay all this bigheartedness? Am I a charity case, and when did that happen? Do I talk too much about my personal situation? Am I accountable for this assistance? And what about moving forward?

In a nutshell – I’m feeling guilt when I should be feeling gratitude. Which, by the way, makes me feel shame. However, I am truly thankful too. It’s confusing to say the least.

So what about you? Have you received something that has left you with conflicting emotions? How did you work it out?


Wishwords said...

It's a toughie. I know exactly how it feels. Perhaps it would be helpful to put yourself in the givers' shoes and try to understand how they feel about being able to help you out? And don't think of yourself as "the recipient" and them as "the givers". Try to think of yourself as part of this great team that looks out for each other and extends a hand when it's needed.

Sheryl Tuttle said...

Thank you - I needed that. I especially like your reference that we are all part of a great team looking out for each other.