I wander around department stores about once every 7 years, as evident by the two gift cards I’ve been carrying around for nearly that long. It wasn’t for a lack of trying that they hadn’t been spent. Justin and I had looked, but we don’t tend to find much of ourselves on their shelves.
But my wallet needed cleaning out and the summer heat and humidity is sneaking up on us, and I set upon it, determined to spend these damn cards, knowing (hoping) I’d at least find a cami or a tank top.
(Shopping is always an experience in itself for me. I could probably write about it alone, but that’s not what stole my attention that day.)
I found what I had been looking for, and with a armful of stripes, totaled up my swag to find it just exactly what I needed to spend to get rid of these damn snowmen and Santa’s I’ve been carrying around for nearly a decade.
I was wrong. Four dollars left on one card.
I’m not taking this thing home. I’ll find something in here to spend it on.
I was only about halfway down the main aisle when I stopped myself.
This is stupid. I’ve walked these aisles. I found what I want. I don’t want anything more.
So I walked back to the register to pay it forward instead. There was a woman there with her teen daughter, their items being totaled. I honestly didn’t expect the conversation that followed.
“Excuse me. There’s not much on this, but I’d like to give it to you.”
“Huh? Oooooh, no, no. I couldn’t take that from you.”
“No, really. It’s not a big deal. It’s only a few bucks and I won’t use it.”
“No, I wouldn’t feel right. You’ll regret it.”
Uh. What? Although my knee-jerk response flowed out without pause, my head got a little stuck on that phrase of hers. I’ll regret being kind?
“I live an hour away. It’s taken me 7 years to spend this much, and I’m not going to be driving out here again for $4.”
“No, no, you keep it. I couldn’t possibly…”
At this point I was pretty much over the debate.
“Seriously, you’re doing me a favor.”
And I placed it on the counter and walked out. As I walked to the truck, Life spoke so loudly in my ears that I almost acquiesced to the urge to turn back and repeat them.
Why is it so hard for you to receive?
Life is constantly walking up to you, trying to give you a gift of generosity, a show of love, the tiniest token of how much you are held and supported. If you can’t receive with gratitude something as small and meaningless as a little plastic card today or a compliment tomorrow, how in the world do you expect Life to be able to pour out the ocean of goodwill into your heart that you so deeply deserve?
How is it that you can expect the young person standing next to you to learn to receive with graciousness, to reach out for support when she’s depressed or has her hands full with a new baby or God forbid, is sick and hurting? What do you tell her every time you tell yourself no, you couldn’t possibly, it wouldn’t feel right?
That you’re not worthy? That others will regret showing you kindness? Who told you this bullshit story and why in the hell do you decide to believe them still?
And then Life turned the tables and asked me, why is it so hard for you to give?
Whether it was $4 or $400, it didn’t matter. Why do you diminish it, take the focus off the act of kindness, and pretend the recipient is doing you a favor? Why do you insist that what you are giving means so little? Why do you put a monetary value on kindness, instead of honoring the act for what it truly is – something that runs so much deeper to others than some service to you.
This isn’t about you. It is about what Life wants to show someone else, and you let your own discomfort get in the way of the words that really needed to be heard; words of self-worth, and a message from the Universe that kindness comes in seemingly small, unexpected ways. This wasn’t for you to value or devalue, but simply to allow.
How many times have you felt the words play on your tongue, the uncontrollable desire to walk up to a stranger and tell her she’s beautiful or that Life is working magic for her as we speak? How many times have you talked yourself out of it for no other reason than you put your own head in the way? You made it about you – how you’ll look, what others will think of you – instead of surrendering to the flash of revelation lighting sparks against your heart.
There is nothing to be uncomfortable about. Nothing to argue or debate. Nothing to be embarrassed for. Speak the words rubbing against you, share what you are called to share, and let the Divine decide where the chips will fall. Let a greater Mystery guide a conversation you yourself won’t fully see.
Let it all go. Let yourself receive, and let yourself give, without all your damn excuses.