I’ve had two conversations in the last week that have got me thinking about what it means to give and receive, and also how important it is to ask for what we want.
I have a friend who is preparing to make a big move. She’s been in the same Arizona-desert city for a long time and is now getting ready to a smaller, more tree-filled area. In the process, she’s clearing out a lot of stuff that she doesn’t feel the need to carry with her anymore. In fact, she said, she’s being “ruthless” about getting rid of stuff. As we talked last week, she told me about filling up friends’ cars with things she won’t be taking with her.
As she talked, I kept hearing this little voice in my head saying, “I want her to send me something. I want her to send me something. I want her to send me something!”
It felt SO scary to open my mouth and ask the question, but finally I did. “This is really presumptuous of me to ask, I know, but I keep hearing this voice in my head. I was wondering if you’d pick out something special and send it to me.”
I don’t know what I expected her reaction to be. But you should have heard her whoop of delight! She got SO excited about the idea of going through her things and finding the perfect item to send to me. Not only was she not offended, but she thanked me because she said it would make packing and sorting more fun!!! Now she would have a little game to play with herself and she goes through her things. And one day – I have no idea when – a package will arrive at my door and I’ll have a special gift from a very special friend.
Sometimes I forget that in asking for what I really, truly want, I open up the possibility of giving a gift to someone else.
The other conversation was with a friend who has done me several kindnesses over the last six months. She also made me feel like the act of helping me gave her a great deal of joy. I wanted to do something nice for her, so I got her a gift card JC Penney. It was just a small token.
I had gotten it for her a couple of months ago, and due to my own forgetfulness, had never given it to her. So on Friday, I finally pulled her aside and gave it to her. She was totally surprised – she’d never expected anything in the first place, and especially not a few months after the fact.
And as much joy as I got from giving her the card, there was another more important lesson: it reminded me that we never, ever know where the next gift is coming from. Whether it’s a chunk of money, a new love, a book contract (!!), or whatever – even if I can’t see it in this moment doesn’t mean that it’s not right around the next corner.
I have no idea what the Universe has cooking up for me next, but I’m excited to find out!
(In writing this post, I remembered that I’ve written on this topic before. That post is just as topical for me today as it was when I wrote it in August 2011. Read it here: Giving AND receiving)
Today’s miracle: A reminder that giving and receiving are two sides of the very same coin.
What about you? Have you ever felt like you got so much out of giving something to someone else?
The beautiful image was found here.