Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Difficulty in Receiving Gifts

Today again my children and I attended a Lenten gathering called "Drawing Down Divine Mercy." The first we attended was on Ash Wednesday. I wrote about what struck me then in the post "Sentenced to Life."

Today what struck me was a discussion of gifts, as in presents. Because Jesus emphasized to St. Faustina in his communications to her about Divine Mercy that to receive mercy, we must approach Him as little children would, we talked about how children think about gifts. Having my kids there was quite helpful to all of us. They helped us realize their sense of expectation about getting a gift, their joy in being chosen to get something, how they search their hearts to share with those able to give gifts just exactly what it is they desire, and then also their willingness to share with others what they receive, because most of the joy is simply in receiving something, not really about being attached to what they get. All this was facilitated by the leaders drawing names from a basket for four people to have the chance to take a gift from the "mercy table" replete with little religious goodies. My daughter's name was drawn, and a Sister whose name was also drawn gave the gift she received to my son.

All of this had me thinking about my attitude toward gifts. When the leader of the group asked us to do an initial word association, to be honest, what came to my mind was that giving a gift was a chance to off-load some junk on someone. Now, I admit that I am not a "gifty" person. Some people really like to buy gifts or make gifts or receive gifts, and I'm not really one of them. Ain't my "love language." Yet, the more I thought about my initial reaction as I meditated on mercy as a gift from God, I realized that this negative connotation is sitting like a bit of rot in my soul. Even if it is not my love language, giving a gift is most definitely an act of love -- or can be at least. For God it most certainly is. Once shortly after my marriage, a friend had a china hutch she had to move out of a rental house she owned, and she asked if we needed one, which we did. As it was unloaded at our house, I recall, in my very artless way, saying to her "Gee, I figured if you were giving this to us, it would be some ugly thing, but this is really nice!"

I'm not sure where it comes from that I figure gifts given to me are just someone trying to get rid of their junk. Maybe it is because when I give someone something, I'm just getting rid of my junk. What I actually like is beautiful, empty space. Maybe gifts feel like burdens, like something I now have to work into my routine of taking care of. Maybe it bespeaks my laziness. Maybe it bespeaks my lack of trust in the purity of the intention of love on the part of other people. I've often thought that if someone really loved me, they would know exactly what makes me happy. My husband reminds me that he does not read minds. I know I don't read my children's minds. Maybe I am afraid to face the intensity of my desire, for fear of disappointment.

In human relations, all of these responses retain some degree of reasonableness. But what about when I face God and think about His gifts? Do I even know what my heart desires from Him? Do I know how to say it to Him? Will the disparity between my heart-felt desire and His perfect will serve to humble me or irritate me?

These are all things given to me today to ponder ... as a gift.

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