Thanks to the kindness of friends, I had a two-week vacation at my cottage without actually spending a night at my own cottage.
It’s under renovations, you see, and the work proceeds slowly. (Lesson learned: Choose your contractor carefully.)
We thought the place would be fully wired with electricity and have a fully operational water system before our arrival, but, alas, it was not so. Our friends from down the road kindly offered us their cottage as a base of operations. We slept, showered, and read by something other than candlelight there at night and worked on our own cottage during the day. We were deeply grateful for this kindness, even as we struggled with “Oh, we don’t want to impose,” and “It’s too much,” and “Really? Are you sure?”
It’s not always easy to receive, even when friends, or strangers, offer gifts freely from an open heart.
By coincidence (or perhaps what my friend, Ellie, calls a God-incidence) two of the books I read while receiving this gift addressed this situation—in different ways.
The first, An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service and an Authentic Life by Mary Johnson, described life with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity (MC). The sisters of MC took a vow of poverty, so they sought donations from others for all their work. (Mary Johnson used the word “beg”.) Mother Teresa told the sisters that in doing so, they let others feel the joy of giving, freely from an open heart. According to her, by receiving they were giving.
The second book, Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup, takes a different tack. Northrup describes the importance of self-value, and how learning to receive teaches us self-love. She writes about how we sometimes refuse to allow a co-worker to buy us a latte, or how we deflect compliments. “This dress? Oh, it was on sale. It’s no big deal.” When we refuse gifts, Northrup says, it’s because we tell ourselves we’re not worthy of them, even when our friends make the offer freely from an open heart. According to her, when we receive we learn to love ourselves.
Our friends made the offer of the cottage freely from open hearts, so I sat on the front deck and enjoyed the view of the lake. Well, I wouldn’t want to deprive them of the joy of giving, now would I? And I love them and myself enough to receive it.
Thanks Jim and Louise!