Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gracious Gratitude

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving Weekend. We definitely did. And I really enjoyed last week's personal challenge. It had an unexpected result in my own life.

I have a tendency to talk a lot. Then I leave and I wish I wouldn't have said so much. So, for the last few years, I've been trying to talk less and be a better listener. Last week I was so intent on keeping the balance between RAK's received and RAK's given that I kept my mouth shut more in order to listen to learn how I could help each individual I interacted with. It was so great! I'm not saying that I've made a perfect change over night, but it's definite progress. I also enjoyed several really cool experiences of being in the right place at the right time. It felt so good to not be thinking about myself all the time and to have a part in putting a smile on someone else's face. This is definitely one challenge that I'm going to keep making into a habit.

I had no idea how I was going to post yet another post about Gratitude. Then my sister shared this wonderful story with me and gave me the necessary inspiration:

(For anyone who doesn't know, a "bishop" in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the leader over a congregational unit. Just like all other assignments in the church, this is temporary and is referred to as a "calling". When the time of service is over, it's called being "released".)

"Random acts of kindness really have the ability to restore my faith in mankind, like you talked about. Lately, I've been so bogged down in my own world of troubles that I haven't even been paying attention to others and what needs they might have. Last night, though, I was the recipient of a RAK (a huge one) and it made me think about how many times I may have passed up an opportunity to help someone else. Then I looked at your blog today, and wow, what a coincidence.

"Here's the story: Our bishop who was released a couple of weeks ago, told me last week that his brother had an organ for sale if I was interested. I was recently called as our ward organist, and since I'm just learning how to play, I was really interested. That is, until we looked at our finances, and realized we couldn't afford it. So we never called his brother or did anything about it, and I was a little sad, but really I was ok with it since we didn't need it or anything anyway.

"Well, last night, this same kind man calls us up and says he has an organ to deliver to us. He had paid his brother for it for us. He also said that if we want to pay him back, to just pay it back to the Church's missionary fund. I was stunned.

"At first I felt so guilty because I thought, we're not destitute, and with a little bit of stretching, we probably could have afforded it. And it's not like I really needed that organ, I already own a nice piano and I've just been practicing the organ at the church during the week. I mean, why me? Why did he give it to me? Then I called my mom, because I didn't see how I could possibly accept this gift. Yet how could I say no? That would have definitely hurt the giver, which wouldn't accomplish anything anyway. And my mom shared some wisdom with me (that she'd shared before and I'd forgotten), she said, "Amy, you can choose guilt or gratitude. You can shoose to feel really guilty for receiving this gift, or you can be really really grateful to the giver." By the time Br. Jensen showed up with the organ, I'd decided on gratitude. I can never repay him, but I can be really grateful. And I can choose to be more like that."

Thanks, Amy. And Mom. I'm so grateful to have an older sister that I can still look up to and learn from even though we're both adults. I'm also grateful to have a mom that gives such great advice. I think this is a really important lesson for us to learn in this life--how to accept gifts and service from others. Especially when the gift is overwhelmingly big or great.

So, how do you get over feelings of guilt or being undeserving? Sometimes it's my pride that gets in the way, does that happen to anyone else? Have you ever been on the giving side of a situation like this? Any suggestions on how to make it easier for someone to accept your gift? Sometimes it helps to look at a situation from the other side, so maybe putting yourself in the giver's shoes would help you as the receiver.


Jen said...
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Jen said...

I've had some catch-up reading to this blog today. . . and I've missed a lot of very good gratitude ideas. Thank you Cheryl! I really like the idea of tallying Random Acts of Kindness, at least for a week or so. I think I will notice the kindness of others more and, hopefully, give more of my own. :) Might I add that a kind lady opened the door for Luke and I and the stroller the other day at Kohl's and I was certainly thankful; it brought a smile to my face that I hope she noticed. Reading your comment about that reminded me of that RAK.

About accepting gifts. . . I suppose that I should be more modest with my acceptance of gifts, but I am so very not. I figure if you want to give me something valuable, I will be more than happy to take it. . . at least most of the time. :) Eric often doesn't feel the same way as I do; he is definitely more modest. My challenge would be to pay those gifts forward and to show greater gratitude and thoughtfulness toward the giver. I'm working on it. . .

Linda said...

I'm catching up on the blog also. Thanks for sharing your experience, Amy. And as the recipient of many of Cheryl's RAK, thank you too! What a great idea - to listen with the focus on discovering what acts of kindness others need. I'm going to do that today.