This blog is intended to create a dialogue about learning to receive with grace and ease.

So much has been written about the importance of giving that we forget that in order to give,

someone has to be receiving.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Learning to Trust

Several years ago, I had a powerful lesson about doing my part and trusting God to do the rest.  I had been laid off from a middle management position and given four months of severance pay plus the support of an outplacement firm.  My daughters were in daycare full time at that point, and their father and I had just taken on a couple of new financial obligations.  I needed to get back to work as quickly as possible.

I took on my job search full time, going into the outplacement company’s office daily.  I did everything they advised me to do to the best of my ability and made a commitment to trust God.    As my severance period was winding down, I ended up being offered an HR management position that paid about 20% less than I had been making.  It was not my first choice of position, as I had been looking for a job out of state and outside the HR arena.  I knew, however, that if I turned the job down, my unemployment would end, because I had refused a management job in my field.  Yes, I could have lied to the Department of Labor, but that went against my commitment to trust God. 

I decided to accept the position, pay cut and all.  I saw several opportunities to make improvements in the HR department, and things went well.  Within six weeks, the COO reorganized the company and promoted me to a position equal to the person I had been hired by and was reporting to.  My pay was increased to what it had been in my former job.  I continued doing my best and six weeks after that, he restructured again, elevating me above the person who had hired me.  I was now his boss, and I was making more money than I ever had in my life.  Working at this higher level gave me wonderful new opportunities, including coming to Phoenix for a training program.  It was this exposure to the Southwest that prompted my move here. 

I can remember so clearly having to make the decision about accepting that job.  That profound lesson in trusting and letting go has stayed with me all these years.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Doing Our Part To Receive

I’m convinced that one of the things I’m to learn in this lifetime is how to discern what is mine to do whil leaving the rest to Spirit.  I’ve found it to be quite a balancing act at times: taking appropriate action, without shouldering what feels like the weight of the world.

The traditional American work ethic could be summed up as, “if it’s to be, it’s up to me” and “God helps those who help themselves.”  We’re taught how to set goals, define action steps, and create checklists to get things done.  As a self-employed sole proprietor, I assure you it’s easy to get swallowed up in the doing, doing, doing.

Contrast this approach with the movie The Secret, which has been criticized for making manifestation too easy and too passive - just visualize what you want and believe you’ll get it.  I’ve seen the movie several times and read the book, and the presenters do talk about taking action when you feel moved to do so.  But, in hindsight, the taking action step is probably not emphasized quite enough, especially given the joyful ease with which the visualizing step is portrayed and how hard we’ve all been working to follow the American work ethic.

I think Emilie Cady described the middle ground well when she wrote, “There are some things that we are to do ourselves, but there are others that God does not expect us to do…They are His part, and our greatest trouble lies in our trying to do God’s part, just because we have not learned how to trust God to do it.” While I haven’t mastered the distinction between my part and God’s yet, I have gotten it right on occasion.  I’ll tell you about one such time next week.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Knowing What We Have

Have you heard it said that those who have much will receive more and those who have little will lose the little they have? What’s up with that?  For years I’ve heard this story about three men receiving talents (or money) - one got ten, another five, and the third one.  The first two invested what they received and doubled their money. The last one hoarded the seemingly little he had and eventually had it taken away.  At first blush, this seems unfair.  Why should those blessed with abundance be even more blessed and the one with little lose even that?
The key to understanding the story is to dig deeper.  The first two men recognized what they had.  We don’t really have something until we know we have it.  Imagine a bank account in your name with a million dollars in it - only you have no idea it exists.  It’s yours, but do you really have it?  Once you recognize it as yours, you can be grateful for it, appreciate its value, and put it to use.  Only then do you have it, and only then can it grow.  The man who received one talent didn’t appreciate the gift.  In fact, the story says he was afraid of the one who gave it to him.  Gratitude multiplies and fear diminishes.
With this new understanding of the story, we can stop the next time we feel fear, and look for something to feel grateful for.  As Americans, we can certainly find something to appreciate, no matter what our current circumstances.  That will shift us from the constriction of fear to the openness of abundance, setting us up to receive with grace and ease, just like the two men in the story.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Aligning Giving and Receiving

Because giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin, there is a natural alignment that occurs between giving and receiving.  Givers receive the joy of having helped another person and receivers give the giver the opportunity to be blessed by giving.  So how do these get out of alignment?  One way is when we resist alternating roles, as appropriate.  If we always insist on being the one doing the giving, as many do, then we never experience what it’s like to receive.  More than that, at times we miss out on receiving what we need, since we cannot possibly meet all our needs ourselves.

How can you tell if your giving and receiving are out of alignment?  These may be some indications:

·       Your needs are not being met

·       You experience burnout (a combination of excessive stress, tension, depression, anxiety, irritability, conflicts, anger, guilt and/or diminished satisfaction with life)

·       Opportunities stop presenting themselves

·       People over-rely on you, repeatedly asking you do things they could do for themselves

·       Performing acts of service no longer brings you the joy it once did

·       You resent what others have or get

·       People close to you no longer go out of their way to help you

·       Invitations stop coming

If you find yourself experiencing one or more of these events, please don’t start chastising yourself.  The vast majority of times, people’s actions are well-intentioned (yours, too).   Instead, gently ask yourself if you’ve frequently overlooked or turned down chances to either give or receive.  Ask someone who knows you well for feedback.  Raising your awareness is the first step to restoring alignment and achieving the balance in giving and receiving that works so well.