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, July 29, 2012

Foiled Attempts to Give

Most of us have heard the story about the old man caught in a flood who, waiting for God to save him, died after he turned down three different good Samaritans attempting to help him.  I’ve used that tale myself to illustrate the importance of being open minded about how our good shows up when we need to receive.  Recently I thought about this story from a different perspective, that of the would-be rescuers.

What if the tale were true?  Can you imagine how the three kind souls would have felt if they’d learned of the man’s demise?  Have you ever attempted to give guidance, feedback, or help only to have it rejected?  There may be a temptation to say “I told you so” or “I tried to warn you.”  On the other hand, you may feel guilty or frustrated that your good intentions were not well received, particularly if it involved someone you truly care for.

Having been in this position, I found it took time for me to realize that I had nothing to resent or regret.  Sometimes after considerable angst, I came to accept that I did all I could do and now needed yto let go and let God.  Givers cannot be responsible for the receiver’s actions or response.  Giving and receiving is a process, and givers only have control over the giving part; the receiving is up to the other party.  If they’re not ready or willing to accept what is offered, it does not diminish the giver’s efforts. 

Remember, this holds true with our children, parents, subordinates, siblings, and friends.  Go easy on yourself; give from your heart and let it go.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Unexpected Good Stuff

       Evelyn: Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.
       Muriel: Most things don't. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.

This bit of dialogue from the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of my favorite parts of the film.  (Leave it to Judi Dench (Evelyn) and Maggie Smith (Muriel) to come through for us again!)  It makes two very worthwhile points.

First, most things don’t work out the way we expect.  I’ve found that to be true in both directions: some things are better than I thought they would be (remember the TV show Doogie Howser?) while others don’t live up to my expectations (such as this fourth of July at the ballgame when the D’backs lost and two guys next to us got into a fight and carried on all through the fireworks).  It’s easy to receive when things unexpectedly turn out well, but how well do you accept the disappointments?  Can you see the blessings in those?  These might well be the times Muriel is referring to as “the good stuff,” a second memorable point from the film.  

To receive with grace and ease, we need to be ready for anything and then be willing to receive it.  My experience participating in an Arthritis Foundation marathon in Amsterdam is an example of the proverbial silver lining in the cloud.  After I spent months training to race walk the marathon, the event organizers were not prepared for walkers and began shutting the course down after I had been walking only 90 minutes.  To make a long story short, much to my embarrassment and extreme disappointment, I never completed the marathon.  What was the good stuff?  I ended up in excellent physical shape and met my primary goals of raising $4500 and taking my daughters to Europe.  In addition, I wasn’t sore the day after the marathon like everyone else was, enabling me really enjoy my first time in Europe!  The good stuff is there, if we’re open to receiving it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

How Well Do You Receive Praise?

Many years ago I managed a department of about 40 employees.  The department had a major backlog when I was hired, and the company was hoping my fresh perspective and human resources experience would help eliminate it.  It took the work of everyone in the department along with several others throughout the organization, a new understanding of the work process, and about 15 months to get caught up - but we did it!

To celebrate, the team leaders and I held a party which included food (of course!) and a gift and personal recognition for each member of the department.  It was a private event held offsite during which each person was asked to come forward to receive his or her gift.  All but one person happily came to the front to receive their accolades and treasure.  One woman, a particularly strong performer who had been with us for many years, refused to come up.  After several minutes of coaxing by the entire team, she finally, painfully came forward.

If I had it to do over again, I would handle it differently.  While I don’t understand her refusal to be recognized, I learned that we cannot force people to receive.  She eventually took the gift but the neither the givers nor the receiver felt the blessing.  The team leaders and I were so determined to show our appreciation, and she was equally adamant in her refusal to accept it, although what her specific objection was I never did learn.  The irony of it is that her unwillingness to walk up, take the gift, and go back to her seat resulted in far more attention on her than if she had just complied.

People are so stressed and quick to find fault today.  Let’s remember the joy of giving praise, sweet music to almost everyone’s ears.  And when commendations come our way, let’s receive them with grace and ease.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


What is your favorite time of day?  Mine is the morning.  For years I’ve had the habit of rising before everyone else so I have the house to myself.  In the peace and quiet, I reflect, pray, read, journal, plan my day, and sit in the silence.  After exercising and eating breakfast, I do my best work of the day.  I’ve always been a morning person, so night people amaze me.  As I’m winding down, they’re just getting started.  That’s really different for me.

Nighttime has a unique meaning spiritually speaking, too.  When we have a nighttime experience in a spiritual sense it means we’ve gone as far as our own light will take us at that point.  Just as we wouldn’t move around our house in the dark, during our spiritual nighttime we’re called to stop and wait for more light.  Wait for - not seek, strive or look for.  No action is required on our part.  Maybe the waiting and inactivity are why nighttime has never appealed to me.

When we’ve tried everything we know to and still can’t see the next step before us, let’s recognize that it’s nighttime.  Let’s not be anxious, but rather rest in the assurance that this quiet time is as necessary for our growth as nighttime is for plants’ development.  It’s a time to rely less on our own personal efforts and more on Divine Law that is always operating on our behalf.  Let’s receive the time of respite and renewal free from concern, knowing that all is well.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Free to Give and Receive

As I frequently point out, giving typically bestows blessings on both the giver and the receiver.  These blessings are not automatic, however.  An essential element which allows the good to flow is that the giving and receiving be done freely.

There may be times that based on the situation, we feel obligated to give, to reciprocate for a gift or act of kindness we received.  We may be subjected to family expectations or feel pressured from our employer or a group to which we belong.  Similarly, we may be pressed to accept something that we’d rather not receive.  I’ve had clients tell me stories about someone they know who always insists on paying, for example.  Giving and receiving under these circumstances is likely to restrict the flow of good to both parties.  I encourage you to avoid it.

My favorite Shakespearean quotation applies here, “This above all: to thine ownself be true.”  When faced with a giving or receiving opportunity that causes you to resist, stop and examine where the resistance is coming from.  Is there a history of one-sided giving that you resent?  Does the giver tend to hold the gift against you?  Do you fear feeling obligated to that particular giver?  If so, can you have an authentic conversation that would allow you to proceed comfortably?  For the process to work, both giving and receiving need to occur freely, with grace and ease.