As this is being published, I’m visiting with my dear friends in Mexico. I wasn’t really sure I’d be joining them on this trip, as I’m committed to living within my means and paying down credit card debt, and a flight to Mexico during spring break didn’t seem like it was going to be ‘within my means.’ And it wasn’t. It was, however, within the means of two of my friends who decided, as a couple, to offer me the cost of the ticket. This post is not for me to brag about having fantastic, amazing, and generous friends – though it is certainly true- it’s to talk about giving and receiving.
Several years back, I took a course called, “Celebrating Women: Regarding Ecstasy and Power” through PAX programs. One of the things they taught in that workshop is the importance of being willing to receive gifts, and how truly receiving something is a gift to both you and the giver. I started to get a little bit better at receiving things and showing my true joy at having someone want to give me something.
I also started to see how annoying it is when there is some kind of “ledger” relationship going as it relates to gifts.
Think about the last time you gave a gift, and the person you were giving it to started immediately apologizing for not getting you something. It’s a little depressing and off-putting, no? Yet we’ve all been there in that instant feeling of guilt, like we did something socially wrong in not having a gift ready.
Today, I’d like to make a case for clear, string-free, open-hearted giving and receiving.
In order to illustrate this, I would like to share a story from my World of Warcraft days. (It’s an online game where there are multiple people playing at once.) I had a friend I played with who was incredibly generous with his time and skill in the game, helping all of his friends to navigate the game far easier than we could have done on our own. We’ll call him Rook.
My own personal joy towards the end of the game was making gold. I loved it – I read blogs about the economy of the game, different auction house strategies, crafting for gold, etc. I thought it was so much more fun than nearly anything else. So I ended up with a lot of gold – not because I wanted to buy something, but because I just loved making it.
One day, Rook was lamenting to me how he would never, ever be able to purchase this expensive horse he wanted. (Don’t ask, that’s a simplified explanation.) It cost about 35,000 gold – and I had at least three times that much just sitting around. I immediately offered it to him.
He refused, saying how he could never possibly take that much gold from me, and it was way too generous and he could never accept it. I realize we’re talking about fake money here, so it’s so tempting to make Rook into a ridiculous character.
But he’s not. He’s just like the rest of us, spouting off the litany of reasons why we’re not really deserving of the generosity of someone else. Because we’re stuck in our own mindset, and the gift seems like something huge and unobtainable from our current position, so we assume it’s a giant sacrifice on the part of the giver.
The thing is, unless you’re emotionally unwell, you only give out of abundance. You give because you can, and you want to. Nothing would have made me happier than for Rook to say, “Thanks! That’s so awesome!” and to watch him happily riding his new 35K horse.
Nonetheless, I’ve had a couple of occasions in the last months that made me “pull a Rook” and start refusing very generous offers, made from a place of love and abundance.
I couldn’t be worth that much. I couldn’t receive that much. Luckily I heard myself on the phone, sounding exactly like Rook did when he refused my 35K gold, in time to shut up and say thank you instead. I’m still struggling a little bit with internally – there are still doubts about whether or not I really deserve this amazing gift. Or if I let myself relax and just appreciate it, I’ll become some sort of dreadful taker.
Instead of strolling down this pointless, painful path, I’ve decided to honor my friends and their generosity by choosing gratitude instead of self-doubt and shame.
So, here, I’d like to publicly say thank you. I’m sure as this gets auto-published, we’re having an amazing moment together, laughing, delighting in the magic of life and the joy of having found our own tribe. Thank you so much for bringing me in, showing me what that means, and for making sure I can be there, this time, in all that warmth, celebrating all that we are becoming together.
My action challenge for you this week, dear reader, is to allow yourself to give with generosity and receive with gratitude. If it freaks you out, start small and let it get bigger. When someone waves you on in traffic, go, smile and wave thank you instead of stopping and insisting that they go instead. When you see someone behind you with 10 items to your 75, offer to let them go ahead of you. Or get wild and bring someone a small gift just because and smile generously as they tell you how you shouldn’t have!