Sunday, April 29, 2007

Opening Yourself to God's Loving ... Through His Worker Bees

Peacebang has graciously invited others to share their thoughts on being tuned in to God, or as she says:

"Is there some other way to experience God's love that doesn't involve practicing love as best you can? I mean, some passive way where you don't have to do anything, or put anything out?"

I can say, unequivocally, Yes. And it's completely passive. In fact, that's the whole point.

One very important way to experience God's love is to passively accept from others.

Before All of This, I thought I was good at receiving from others. I fought the "do it all myself" urge and thought I did well, accepting the help and gifts of friends, acquaintances and family.

But here's the deal: I only accepted from others on my own terms.

I judiciously chose where and in what context I accepted help. I didn't realize it, of course. But I was Self-Reliant, capitals deliberate. Sure, I could accept your assistance on MY project. "Can you do this particular thing that I know you're gifted at?"

Not that it was one-sided. Ye Gods, no. Because then you might think poorly of me. So I was there with bells on to give you assistance on YOUR project.

I carried myself as Someone Capable. So, sure, I was happy to receive from others. As long as it never required that I show any vulnerability. Grateful, yes. Needy ... never. If I accepted help, it was in a context of reverse tit-for-tat, "Okay, I'll let you do this for me -- but I owe you!"

And then.

And then it all came crumbling down. Any possibility of facade blown away. All I could do was focus on my family. And even that, much of the time, was impossible. I could only focus on one member of my family. I was up at the hospital. Not only could I not DO, I couldn't even control the puppets. I couldn't arrange for this person to do this and that person to do that because I was at the hospital. I didn't know that Kid A had a project due Friday and Kid B needed a permission slip signed. I had to cede authority to others.

Those who cared for us, took on assertive roles. They brought food. Filled our freezer. They didn't ask. They just did. My parents "parented" their grandchildren. Even at home, my focus was on Little Warrior. Holding her as she vomited from chemo, or slept from chemo. Prayed. Stared at her face, memorizing it.

And other than taking care of LW, I was, for the most part, passive. My sister-in-law paid for a maid to come every couple of weeks. I sat on the couch with LW as she vacuumed around us.

For the first time in my adult life, I accepted help on the terms of those who gave it. It wasn't because I deserved it, it wasn't because I requested specific actions, it wasn't quid-pro-quo. They gave. Whether I deserved help, whether I could pay back their help -- these were completely immaterial. They gave. The ladies in my neighborhood even took turns deliberately giving things that I didn't "need." Bath gel, candles -- they wanted to give things just to give me a smile. I was new to the neighborhood. They didn't even know me. Do you get what I'm saying? This was unearned. They gave simply to give.

And I learned to accept. To gratefully, passively accept. And I began to see that in my passive acceptance, I was, in fact, giving back. I gave *them* the opportunity to give. I remember when it all began, saying to The Husband, "But I don't want to be the person getting casseroles. I'm the person who MAKES the casseroles!" I now know that there is something selfish in that. People like to give. It makes them feel good. And if it is a bit humbling for you, to just passively receive ... well, that's fine, too.

I was not raised a Christian, but I have studied the concept of grace. Grace -- unearned, perhaps undeserved. Given freely.

Now ... I understand it.


Joel Monka said...

This essay should be required reading for anyone who thinks they are self aware! Thank you!

Boobless Brigade Master said...

Oh yes.
Well put!
I must repost this on my blog!