Receiving With Grace
“When you look away from a homeless person, you diminish their humanity and your own” – Father Murray, as quoted by Brene Brown in her book “Rising Strong”
This simple sentence really speaks volumes. What is it that would make someone turn away from a homeless person? Have you ever pretended to not see someone? Are you afraid connect to that person? Why is it so hard for some to make eye contact with anyone?
“Be grateful for every compliment you receive – don’t shrug it off. When you are open to receiving, you will receive more from the universe” – Unknown
I was once at a seminar where one of the group things we did was to move around the room and hug. No words were allowed. Just a real, heart-felt hug and move on to another person. Most of us connected after the hug, looking into the other person’s eyes before moving on to the next person. Some people had a really hard time with this. Their eyes darted around and they could not maintain the steady looking into the eyes of the other person.
“When you give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed” – Maya Angelou
One woman in particular really connected with me. When I look deeply into another person’s eyes, it feels like I fall into their soul. I see them. I see their stories. Their triumphs and failures. So much joy and pain. I saw all of those things and she felt it. We had a heart to heart connection. She came up later and handed me a card and quickly walked away. When I looked at the card, it was a drawing with the heart in the middle. I realized that she wanted to acknowledge the connection, but she wasn’t ready to talk about it. It was a beautiful moment.
“Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it” – Rabindranath Tagore
We had both been moved, because we saw and acknowledged that we had both been through hard times and it was ok. We were ok, because of the love and kindness of others.
“Always show more kindness than seems necessary, because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know” – Colin Powell
Do you think that when you look away, that you are trying to avoid connecting on purpose? Have you put them into a “this person is not like me” bucket? You might mentally label them as “street people”, “homeless”, “bums”, “addicts”, etc. Putting them into some “other” category that says “not me”? It might be that you are afraid that you might be in their shoes someday? Like it is somehow catching? Are you judging them for somehow failing in life?
For myself, I find that usually if I am looking away it is because I feel inadequate to know how to help, or at that moment I don’t have any cash on me which is what they are asking for. So I avoid eye connection out of my own inadequacy.
“It’s really important to be able to receive love and receive compassion. It is as important as being able to give it” – Pema Chodron
Brene Brown in her book, “Rising Strong” relates it to not wanting to admit that you need others in your lives. That you can’t do it all alone. That you are afraid to receive, and so when others are asking for what they need in order to survive, it throws you for a loop. Because you don’t want to imagine having to depend on the kindness of others in order to survive.
“Sometimes people have a hard time receiving what they want. Why? Because they feel they don’t deserve it” – Notes from Nora
I can identify with the difficulty of having the capacity to receive. In some areas of my life, I have no problem. I grew up as a hand me down family, so I have no problem with second hand furniture or clothes. However, if my needs are more personal, then it is another matter. Like if I can’t do it all myself, I am somehow a failure. I’m supposed to be the strong one, the giver – not the receiver.
“You are important enough to ask and you are blessed enough to receive back” – Wayne Dyer
Someone once talked about this, and it really helped me adjust some of my attitude around this. They talked about hiring someone to clean your home. The way they looked at it, by hiring someone to come and clean your home, you were helping another woman help support her family, and why wouldn’t we want to do that? It really changed the thought from feeling guilty that I wasn’t super woman and doing everything myself, to I can help another person to support their family by hiring them to do my house cleaning or yard work.
“Many people love to give. It’s a great feeling, and they do so with no expectation. But they often are awful at receiving, and really deprive others of that joy of giving. If given a gift, they say, “You shouldn’t have”, “It’s too much”, or the worst, “I feel bad that you got me this”. Ouch. This creates bad feelings during what should be a nice moment, and though their intent was to be selfless and polite, it is actually ungrateful. When a gift is given, “thank you” says that they appreciate the time, consideration, and effort that person has already put forth. Giving is virtuous, but so is accepting gifts gratefully” – Doe Zantamata
You are not meant to “do it all by yourself”. You are driven by your need of community. The phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child” says it all. Open up your capacity to receive. Connect to others. Really see everyone you meet. That connection you make could be just what they need to get through to another day.