Friday, March 19, 2010

What's a Gift Horse Anyway?

Last night, my roomies and I met for our monthly "Women's Prayer Group". The 3 of us make up about half of a group of young Catholic women who have committed to praying together once a month. Since none of our other lady prayer-groupers could meet with us last night, we went ahead and just met amongst ourselves.

First of all, can I just say that I recognize this is not normal. But how awesome? The three of us come together every once in a while for meals or drinks, have been known to host a GREAT party, and may or may not watch Wheel of Fortune on occasion (by that I mean, multiple times a week) in our Snuggies. These are common roommate activities, maybe even somewhat exceptional. But how truly exceptional are the roomies that pray together? Love it. Love them. Love God. Love everything about it.

My one roommate whose grandfather just recently passed away chose to lead us in our reflection and shared with us the reading she read at his funeral. It was one of the epistles (though I'm not sure which one- 2 Corinth maybe?) and its theme was generosity.

She also chose an excerpt from "Called to Love" by Jacques Philippe (Love him! "Searching for and Maintaining Peace" is my jam...) that basically expressed that we need to be open to both receiving AND giving in order to be truly generous.

I don't know if this is just our individualist culture or what, but it seems many people have a difficult time receiving. Our entitlement culture tells us that we should want things and are entitled to them, but when it comes to getting a helping hand from a stranger or picking up something we dropped, or dealing with a problem, how many of us are like: "nah, I got it. I got it." We are taught as Americans to "do it ourselves".

It's quite the paradox. We want and feel entitled to things, but yet, we don't really believe that we are worthy of receiving and often times don't know how to receive. Kind of messed. up.

I've also been amazed at how people don't know or recognize their own gifts. It's very easy for us to see the gifts of others. So much so that we can become envious or compare ourselves to others and their gifts. But the irony is, recognizing our own gifts and honing them is how we can be of best use to others and be most generous. It's not selfish to acknowledge and give time to our own gifts.

Now if you are like me, perhaps you have recognized some of your gifts but you don't really LIKE them. It never fails- every Christmas I get at LEAST one thing that I can't even fake a face for. I just have to say: "thanks! But it's going back."

I've realized I do this to God too. "Thanks, God! You've given me the gift of endurance! Perseverance! Awesome! They are going back."

"Oh! The ability to say-the-things-no-one-wants-to-hear. THAT GUY. Great. Thanks! But I don't think it quite fits..."

Can I exchange these gifts for maybe joyfulness? or peacefulness? How about serenity? You know, the gifts people LIKE to be around? Not being the stinky kid?

Sigh.

But such it is. The grass is always greener, so on and so forth. We want that which we don't have and envy it in others. But in order for our society and the kingdom of God to function, we really need to recognize our God given gifts, practice and use them, and then get ready to receive.

And in order to receive or be filled, there has to be an emptying out. Ah, I see what you did there, God. We can never get too comfortable with our gifts, because if we are doing it right, we are constantly pouring them out for others only to get renewed by their gifts in return. Kind of awesome. Okay, I'll buy it.

St. Paul even talks about the thorn in his side which he values as a gift because it reminds him to rely on God. You had to take it one step further, didn't you Paul? So even our weaknesses are gifts. Gee, thanks, Jesus!! You shouldn't have...

So, all is gift. I like it.

But if you find someone who is willing to barter the gift of say, oh, patience for a little bit of sassiness, you let me know ;) I have a surplus.

Peace,
Julia

2 comments:

Jeremiah 29:11 said...

Ha ha... love it! So sorry that I missed prayer group. Miss you gals!

she said...
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