Archive for the ‘Giving’ Tag

Rescued   1 comment

Sometimes I feel truly overwhelmed.  Hope drains away and the future becomes dark… and then meaningless… and then too weary to even consider.  Days are reduced to a zombie-like stumble, a daily routine on endless repeat like a scratched album.

This fall I faced Mount Everest when I finally agreed with Kimberly to move to Asheville, NC.  Relocating is a huge effort, and just getting our house ready to sell formed an insurmountable list: patch and seal the driveway, repair the stone wall, replace the doorbell, finish remodeling the bedroom, paint the deck and porch and windows and basementandbathroomandkitchen… the tasks filled a page, single-spaced and two columns long.  I felt myself sinking under it.

But in my desperation God sent a guardian angel, my sister Mardi, who suddenly decided that she would take several days vacation-leave to come help.  Driving across three states, she dropped her bags on the floor and said, “Hit me with your list.  I’m going to work from 5 in the morning till 10 at night to get this stuff done.”  Kimberly and I had to tag team just to keep up with her pace.  Her energy flowed into my spirit and lifted me over the shoals so that I could keep going even after she left.  There is still a lot to do, but it no longer overwhelms me.  The wind she puffed into my sails keeps blowing me forward so that her sacrificial gift did much more for me than finish some tasks.

She made the difference for me by giving from her heart, without expectation, which is a pure expression of grace.  When I help others, I often expect that they will help me in return when I need it or that they will join with me as I help them or that they will at least be encouraged and feel better.  If nothing else, I expect them to be sufficiently grateful.  A gift that comes wrapped in expectations is really just a transaction, a trade, and can feel more like a burden than a blessing to those who receive it.  But Mardi gave without expectation, freely, and such grace is an artesian spring, filling our hearts and overflowing into others, the gift that keeps on giving.

 

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Posted February 1, 2016 by janathangrace in Personal, Uncategorized

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Welcoming Grace   Leave a comment

Whispered words of grace are a spiritual balm seeping into my soul, whether they come from liberals or conservatives, Christians or Hindus, teetotalers or alcoholics.  It pulls at me from the gritty, raw, tattooed welcome of those sand-blasted into goodwill and entices me with the sweet, gentle, well-worn embrace of those battered into softness.  It reaches me from every surprising image of love that pulses through each grace-stippled heart.  I want eyes to see it in the face of all I pass, for grace misses no one, but leaves its mark on each, however hidden from the casual eye.  May I be one who sees it, values it, makes room for its timid step.  Grace often expresses itself most deeply by receiving rather than giving, by being blessed from the life of another, by delighting in the goodness leaking out between the slats of their tightly guarded hearts.  Perhaps grace in my life, and even in my relationships, is increased most by welcoming it in rather than mustering it out.

Posted September 8, 2015 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Rethinking Thankfulness   4 comments

As I wrote yesterday, I intend to chronicle my daily smiles, but let’s not confuse that with thanksgiving.  My focus is joie de vivre for me and those who share life with me, while thanksgiving, by contrast, is often seen as moral obligation.  So it is driven by duty rather than delight, aimed at someone else’s benefit rather than my own (except to exercise my virtue).  As a default response, giving thanks will actually weaken relationships rather than enhance them if it pulls us from gracious into legalistic connections.

At a human level, when I share my joy with the one who gifts me, she is drawn into my life and experience.  She connects with me and delights in my joy.  The focus is on a shared enjoyment of the gift rather than a shared esteem of the giver and her virtue.  When I approach thanks as duty, it distances me from the generous one and devalues her generosity down to a trade.  Then my gratitude becomes her due, even though paying it doesn’t reduce my debt for her favors.  And with big favors,  she becomes the benefactor, and I turn into the charity case.  Her virtue and strength is showcased, but only my lack and dependence. Mutuality devolves into hierarchy.

Even when God is the munificent one, I think it far better to share with Him my joy and invite Him into it rather than try to pay Him with gratitude, as though His presents come with price tags.  Of course, I can be self-absorbed, focused only on the gift and ignoring the one who gave it, a childish mistake (although God is not offended or hurt by this as we are).  The real misfortune in such a response is not the unfairness of it, but the loneliness that results.  We were created for community, for connection, for sharing our hearts, so isolating our attention on the gift desiccates our relationships.  The greatest good and core purpose of giving and receiving is to draw us into close communion through mutual care.

For a perfect illustration of the joy of shared celebration, see Susan’s comment.

Posted January 11, 2014 by janathangrace in thoughts

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When Nothing is Everything   2 comments

The status quo is just another word for complacency or resignation in my book, it stinks of the stocks.  For me, hope is tied to change, so when progress is blocked I despond.  I don’t go down easily–I have always been a fighter–but I crippled my emotional resources fighting for the wrong end with the wrong means, and since I crawled from the field of battle, my rehabilitation seems to have no end.  I’ve been working on my recovery for over a decade.  At this rate, my convalescent home will become my retirement home; my life’s purpose has drained off like water from a cracked barrel.  How do I celebrate Christmas on crutch and braces?  What gift can I bring to God?  I have nothing, nothing but a broken heart.  What I have, I give.

“A broken and contrite heart you will not despise.”

Posted December 9, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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