This post is sort of a challenge.
A few weeks ago I was confronted with some ugly truth about myself: I’m selfish. Today, when we think of selfishness, often greed comes to mind, like “I need more money” or “Bigger house” or “Want more stuff.” I’m not talking about greed. Instead, I’m talking about the selfish act of putting one’s self first, before others. Selfishness can be an “in the moment” thing: “I don’t feel like getting up and helping you.” Or, it can be more of an outlook on life, which is a very American attitude, IMO: “Me first! My needs, my wants, my cares, and then, if I’m not too wrapped up, then you.”
Then, there’s the selfishness I suffer from, the “difficulty in doing for others to show my love” kind. Now, let me set a few things straight. First off, I’m completely heart guilty because when it was pointed out to me, it DESTROYED me and yet, that little voice of the Spirit said, “You know it’s right.” And that destroyed me all over again.
Secondly, this difficulty is a REAL difficulty, to wit: it’s difficult to get out (broken car), to get money (long story), to get time away (the kids). There’s a few other wild cards in this category but I don’t want to make it longer because it sounds like an excuse, and that’s just it: I have used these things as an excuse. And it was a problem for me long before I had kids OR needed a car. Those things just camouflaged this flaw. In admitting this, though, I want you to know that at least a little of it is a heart head connection. My heart is in the right place but my head overthinks kindness – and stresses about it – and then I freeze and do nothing. That’s not an excuse, it’s just another flaw I have to work on understanding myself and others.
Additionally, I’m not creative so I freeze on this: how do you help someone if you have no car, no cash and little time – outside of praying? Well, that’s the rub – I still don’t know the answer but I’m trying. I struggled for ideas but my friend challenged me to post creative ways to do this. I’m not sure this is any good but here goes:
5 Easy Ways to Show Gratitude for Your Loved Ones
1. Do something you’re good at – for someone else.
While I was mulling how the heck I can show my appreciation, another friend said, “What about your writing?” I am a good writer, so why not write the support and send it in an email when I can? I got some practice doing this last week and it was positively and happily received. In addition, I’m creatively trying to think of reasonable ways I can share this gift for people in need of my skills. What are you good at that you can do to thank someone? Photography? Organizing? Decorating? What thing do you love to do that you can do for others? What I like about this is that I’ll use any excuse to write, I (still) love it that much.
2. Do something in the moment.
Ok, so you’re in that store and you’re buying groceries and you remember your friend like Bark Thins or Numi Tea or hazelnut cookies or what have you. Now, I know I mentioned money issues I’m having, but I’m talking about super cheap things that won’t start an argument when you get home. (If that’s an issue, avoid this one until you have that worked out, and that’s a whole other post topic.) I have trouble with this because our budget can be TIGHT and the kids require lots of special foods but on occasion when there’s a sale, I can make it work. That said, you don’t always have to spend money to give something. You can also share information – use Facebook or email to send devotionals, inspirational memes, relevant articles – there’s always something to share on the fly with that person who pops in your head. You can sort through old books, CDs, toys, movies, accessories, clothes and figure out which are in good condition and will bless someone you know. In addition, it doesn’t even NEED to be something old, it can be something you’re particularly fond of that you know they would love. As long as it speaks to who they are, go for it.
3. Start listening better.
It’s only by listening that we can consider what our friends really need. I’m painfully aware that I’m a terrible listener so I decided that I would work really hard to listen more attentively about 2 or 3 years ago. Listening is a challenging skill for a blabbermouth like me. (Double that because I work at home, alone and can’t talk to the kids. Triple that??) It’s tough but I’m getting better even if the people I love don’t see it yet. (TRUST ME, friends, my internal dialogue is much quieter than it used to be!) I think I’m still a few years away from really mastering this skill but I’m getting there.
4. Making lists.
I’m terribly forgetful – always have been – and while I’m happy to say, this is getting better (with better eating), I still need to work on remembering things. I know that I need to make a list. I’ve had a few false starts at making prayer lists, but that is a start. Next up, after spending time with friends, family or loved ones, I need to take a few minutes and jot down what I heard from them. This is challenging for friends who are very private but as you get to know people, you can still pick up cues on what they need although it may take a little while to fully grasp those things. That’s why #3 is so important.
5. Plan way ahead.
For me, the best way to show love is to go big but that means planning WAY ahead.For example, I can’t do a special Christmas gift for my husband unless I’ve at least figured out the “what” by October the latest – and I say this as a last minute Christmas shopper. For someone special that you want to indulge, that can mean a 3 month head’s up to get planning. Part of this is that you can really do something for that person without spending a lot of money and still fit it in your life. That could mean anything from free services to yard work to finding that thing they were looking for at that “unbelievably low price!” For example, about 2 or 3 years ago, Amazon offered me a first generation, base model Kindle FOR NINE DOLLARS. My only regret is not buying 2 or 3 of them for reader friends, since I use the HECK out of that thing. Seriously, best $9 I ever spent. That means keep your eye on your inbox, Retail Me Not, Groupon, Woot, Amazon deals, yard sales and book sales for deals that will make your friend’s day or week or month. For doing free things, that means clearing up a spot in your schedule to do whatever it is (thinking ahead is important here). It can also mean squirreling away a few pennies, unexpected income, or prizes for others.
I’m hoping that these 5 easy ways to show gratitude can be folded into my daily routine and spread to considering others on a more frequent basis. Eroding of self is hard, it’s tough and it hurts like hell, but God seems determined to answer my prayer.
Share with me: what simple things have you done to show others your gratitude?
This beautiful book can help you in your spiritual gratitude walk: (Amazon affiliate links below)
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You AreGood Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude JournalGratitude: A JournalThe One-Minute Gratitude Journal
And of course, I have put a gratitude page in my Autism Planning Workbook. Learn more here.