Thursday, October 23, 2008

29 gifts: Week two: Giving words of encouragment

This is the second week I have done the 29 gifts challenge. I receive emails from the site, encouraging my journey. Last week it was about "perfection paralysis":
Do you struggle with perfection paralysis? I sure do. I often allow my obsessive need to DO things perfectly get in the way of getting things done. I want to let go of this limiting way of thinking and being. (from the site.)

This challenge has helped me do that in small ways. This week I have to say I was not "on top" on giving every day. I didn't plan well, I wasn't focused on the "thing" to give that day. So instead of feeling guilty that I wasn't "perfect" in this challenge,  I decided to focus on "inward giving". By this I mean having an inward giving spirit. A good phrase in this is: "Can I help you with anything?" I like this phrase. Someone mentions they are overwhelmed: "Can I help you with anything?" At the very least, (and this is not "least" in the sense of the word) you can offer prayer. "Can I pray for you?", or even "I am praying daily for you." This summer was very difficult for me. I can't really explain it all here, but you could say I got "burnt out", "pushed over the stress edge". A dear friend of mine graciously recognized this in me and told me that she would be praying for me on a daily basis. You don't know how wonderful this made me feel! She has a busy life as well, but just the fact that she told me that she knew I was struggling, wanted to help make it better, and then told me what she would do to help spoke volumes to me. A beautiful giving spirit. Often we say a flippant, "how are you?" and wait for the "Good" answer,  or sense someone is struggling, but feel, "what can I do?" for this person. I have found that if someone expresses to me they are struggling, or even if I sense it, by just having that giving spirit of "I am committed to pray for you every day this week." or just the words, "can I do anything?" help make the situation so much better. That is community. That is a giving spirit that I believe Jesus talks about.
Maybe we don't say, "Can I do anything?" out of fear. What more can I possibly add to my plate? Again, this challenge is about sensing and listening and loving others with actions. Maybe words are not actions in your "love language". But they are in mine! So I look at them as a gift I can give to someone. And often, I mean OFTEN,  it doesn't take that much more energy to "do" something for someone else. Like I said, at the very least, you offered words to that person: I understand you are struggling and I want to help. Sometimes that is all you need to do! Much in the same way I made cookies for my family, but had the intuitiveness (thanks to this challenge!) to bring some to my neighbor. It doesn't take a whole lot of energy to offer WORDS as a gift to someone. 
I think it's key not to be overwhelmed with giving. It is easy to look at our lives and say "I can barely keep up with my house, how can I reach out more?" This is where I am at! But as this week has taught me, it really starts with being aware and intuitive about others to catch the spirit of giving. I hope to touch more on that in the next two weeks, but for now I encourage you to give your words to others!


Rebekah said...

This is a wonderful, encouraging, and challenging post from you as always. Thank you!

Aimee said...

Yes, aware and intuitive. I like that. Giving in the midst of pain and disillusion and hard is a testament of your love and faith in inspire me :)

Beck said...

This has inspired me - I'm going to actually try and take the step of offering to help people instead of just making sympathetic noises at them.

laurel said...

Glad to read about how your 29 days has been going. We haven't been very good about emailing, have we? :)
Excellent points in this post, Andrea. I really like this challenge b/c it makes me more aware...of my thoughts, of my busyness, of my availability...of my time, thoughts, and things. Always good to examine areas of our lives in a new light, isn't it?
I always enjoy your perspective.