Generosity, Gratitude, and God’s Love

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Generosity, Gratitude and God’s Love

An anonymous donor recently gifted me with a wildly generous random act of kindness. The person who delivered the gift instructed me to gratefully receive the gift and under no circumstances was I to try to identify the donor.

My instructions were to simply receive the gift with a healthy dose of gratitude. And if, IF, I discovered the donor’s identity, I was warned that I better not retaliate with something over-the-top generous in return.

I ended up discovering who was behind the gift. I promise I wasn’t trying. And how did I react?

That was way too kind.

Why did she do that?

I don’t deserve such a nice gift.

Dang her! How in the world can I top that one? 

Why couldn’t I just immediately respond like this?

Thank you, Lord, for placing this woman in my life. Her love and compassion blows me away. I am so blessed by her friendship and this generous gift.

It reminds me of a time during my late teens when after a theater performance a family friend complimented me on a job well done. I immediately discounted her compliment and started to point out all the little ways I erred throughout the performance. The friend was never one to shy away from a teachable moment. She said, “I just paid you a high compliment and you rejected it. It’s like a smack to my face.”

Whoa! It was a smack to her face, wasn’t it? And a lesson I won’t forget. Even so, some twenty years later, I fear I’m still smacking people in the face.

Does that ring true for you, too? How many times do we reject a compliment, a gift, a loving suggestion, or a helping hand? How many times do we reject the generosity of others when it’s staring us down like a lost puppy begging to be taken in? How many times do we “smack” others in the face when they simply follow Jesus’ commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

“In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human successes, but on how well we have loved.” — St. John of the Cross

A priest once told me that to love God is to let God love you. Let’s push that downstream a bit — to love at all is allow yourself to be loved. I fear I don’t easily allow myself to be loved by others, especially in the form of random acts of kindness from friends and strangers alike.

Reminds me of a line in Les Misérables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” To freely accept the love of another is to the see the face of God, too, no? As the season of giving approaches, I suspect to find myself with plenty of opportunities to work on this dynamic.

Do you find it difficult to receive gifts graciously, even small gifts such as kind words and compliments? Careful, you may find yourself in a “smack-in-the-face” moment.

Copyright 2013 Lisa Schmidt

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About Author

Lisa Schmidt writes at ThePracticingCatholic.com with her husband Joel. A proud Iowan, the Schmidts reside in Des Moines where Lisa is a full-time at-home mom. She also supports her husband in his deacon ministries for the Diocese of Des Moines. At The Practicing Catholic, Lisa enjoys writing about the things that bring her great joy: the Catholic faith, her family, fine arts, and good food.

3 Comments

  1. Fabulous post and so true! I love this -> “Does that ring true for you, too? How many times do we reject a compliment, a gift, a loving suggestion, or a helping hand? How many times do we reject the generosity of others when it’s staring us down like a lost puppy begging to be taken in? How many times do we “smack” others in the face when they simply follow Jesus’ commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

    Alyssa Bormes, author of “The Catechism of Hockey,” and I were having coffee the other day. (I know, big stretch thinking of me with my coffee. Probably just as big of a stretch as picturing Sarah Reinhard grasping a mug of joe!) Anyway, Alyssa said something wonderful about allowing a man to open the door for you. It was a beautiful thought that not only high-lighted the complimentarity of the sexes, but also allowed for generosity upon giving and receiving an act of kindness.

    I will not do her words justice, so we may need to wrangle her to do a column on this, but she spoke of how allowing the man to open the door for you is a way of not only graciously receiving kindness, but it was a way of naturally allowing that person more attractive to you. And who would want to deny someone they loved of that!

    If a man asks, “Can I open the door for you?” A beautiful response is, “Absolutely. It makes you more attractive to me and I don’t want to deny you the opportunity to be attractive to me.”

    How can we not be attracted more to the ones we love when they do little acts of kindness? This goes both ways in a relationship. Little acts of kindness throughout the day reveal love and draw people closer together. It doesn’t have to be elaborate acts —Sometimes just unloading the dishwasher can be very attractive at our house!

    Beautiful article! Thanks Lisa!

    Kelly

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