Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays of the year. It’s a time where we take a moment to reconnect with loved ones, rest, give thanks, and give gifts of love. I am especially thankful for this holiday season because it comes at the end of a year filled with both joys and trials including the loss of a long time larger-than-life family friend to ALS. She was diagnosed before the ice bucket challenges started and it warmed my heart to see the many videos going viral and that giving increased.
In addition to that, my mom (and hero) successfully made it through a bone marrow and stem cell transplant and I was overjoyed to be there to support her every step of the way.
I was also introduced to Rachel Brumberger, my wonderful (and patient) acupuncturist who has helped me onto the path of a healed, heathy and whole body! As I was reflecting one night with Rachel on all the wonderful lessons I’ve learned this year, she asked that I share some of those with you.
There are so many, but one of the biggest lessons I learned is what I will call the gift of receiving. I know that we’re in the midst of a giving season but hear me out. I’ve always enjoyed giving but admittedly have struggled with receiving…and more specifically receiving help from others. For some reason, I’ve always felt like receiving was a sign of weakness or acknowledgement that I could not finish something that I started. Or better yet, I didn’t want my friends, family or strangers to think that I was taking advantage of them by asking for assistance.
But my beautiful lesson came this way…Recently I took time off work to spend three weeks with my mom as she recovered from a bone marrow transplant which required 24 hour care. I was happy to help but soon learned that caregiving is not something that anyone can do 100% alone. It takes a village.
While caring for my mom, one of my best friends insisted on bringing me household goods even after I said “no I’ll just run to the store and get it myself”. She told me firmly that I was not in this alone and that’s what friends are for and that she was bringing what I needed whether I wanted her to or not. So I rambled off a few items and she brought them to me. It made me smile. That small gesture opened a little door inside me that allowed me to be receptive to others who wanted to help.
After her came a long time family friend who brought a meal from one of our (me and my mom’s) favorite restaurants along with dinner for the next few days. That was followed by more visitors and meals, and by the time I left Atlanta I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love that came our way. I realized that I didn’t have to do everything alone and that the village was actually ok.
When reflecting on this time, I learned a few things about the gift of receiving that I never embraced before.
- Receiving forces us to trust – Have you ever had a moment where someone promised to do something for you and they did it? How good did that feel? It’s inspiring. It’s freeing. It reminds us that at our core, human beings operate in love and kindness every day. It’s one of the best expressions of love. The more we trust the more inspired we are to be trustworthy.
- Receiving makes us a bit vulnerable… in a good way – It’s a silent or spoken acknowledgement that we need help or love or both. It’s also a humbling experience that allows others into our world to flood our hearts with the love that we need.
- Receiving invokes patience – When we receive sometimes we have to wait…perhaps someone offered to bring us something, give us a ride, do a favor, things that normally we would do for ourselves but we cannot. We quite simply have to wait. But in that waiting we become patient and in our patience we realize that there was never really a need to rush or do it all alone in the first place.
One of my favorite quotations by Brene Brown says…“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”
I can truly say that this year I have received so much, with many thanks, that I am inspired. I feel like the simple gesture of allowing someone to be there for me and our family has created an unspeakable bond that I will carry for life. As you celebrate the holidays with your family and loved ones, just remember not only is it a gift to give but ‘tis also a gift to receive.
Ms. Young is a Human Resources Professional based in the Washington, D.C. area. She loves traveling, yoga, and volunteering. She welcomes connecting with you via firstname.lastname@example.org.