The peace and joy caught me by surprise. Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday too, for a grand total of four days of more peace and joy than I’ve experienced in a long time.
It’s not like I was giddy, off the wall for four days. There were certainly troubles and stress to be had. Most likely, nobody even noticed the peace and joy but me. But I’m telling you, when it’s rare for you to admit with all honesty that ONE day’s been a good day, then it’s a real rarity for FOUR IN A ROW to be good days.
And then I got to thinking. There has to be something to this peace and joy.
What’s the “magic formula” for good days? Giving and Receiving.
I started to write all the things that happened over the course of four days and realized, I’ve been on the receiving end of all of these events but one. I’ve spent a lifetime giving and doing, but I’ve NOT been receiving. Well, at least not very well. I’ve been so bound and determined to do what’s right for everyone else and in everyone’s else’s eyes, that I’ve never opened myself enough to fully receive the gifts God wants to bestow upon me.
Let me share what four days of peace and joy looks like. If you’re anything like me, you need to know this NOW.
But before I start, let me point out that in order for this formula to work, there MUST be one who gives and another who receives. This giving and receiving is mutual, from the heart, not contrived but completely authentic, and ultimately beneficial to both parties.
So here goes…14 ways to give more generously and receive more freely in 2014.
1) Look someone in the eyes and ask “How are you doing?” Only this time, really mean it. Don’t move on until you have their real answer. If there are tears, so be it. You’ve done your work. You’ve actually asked them how they’re doing. And now you know. Be glad you asked, because they really needed you to ask. If you’re on the once in a year receiving end of this question, seize the opportunity. Let your guard down. Be real. Take a chance. Allow yourself to be heard.
2) Ask for help. Just straight out ask for help. Do you need support, prayer? Then ask for it. You might just be surprised at all the people who are willing to extend a hand. Accept their offerings as gifts.
3) Tell someone you’ve been praying for them, and really mean it. That means you actually need to start praying for someone, keep praying, and then pray some more. Do it in the quiet, don’t make a big announcement. After a while, when the time is just right, tell them. Tell them anything like “You’ve been on my prayer list since ____ and will continue to be to the end of my earthly days.” Catch them off guard, assure them, then go pray some more.
4) When times are tough, and when times aren’t even that tough, make a meal for someone. If you’re fortunate enough to be on the receiving end? Say yes. Just say yes. And thank you very much. Days later, when you notice the cake plate’s empty but one piece? Put that last piece on a plate and wash the cake pan. Your act of kindness won’t go unnoticed.
5) Offer to watch someone’s kids so they can get their hair cut. And if you’re presented with the opportunity? Seize the moment. Let them take your coat, get you a water, hang your purse, massage your head, style your hair when they’re all done – even if you’re not going anywhere.
6) When someone’s 18-minute drive takes them 1 hour and 18-minutes because of snow and ice, buy them coffee or tea, and have a donut waiting for an extra surprise. Greet them warmly when they arrive, make them feel as if you’d wait all day for them if needed.
7) When someone confides in you, listen. Listen hard. Listen for the things untold. Listen for ways you can help next. And then wait. Let them know, later, that you really heard them. Caught a glimpse of each other as you passed in the hallway? Don’t let the moment pass. Turn back. With just one sentence, without saying it outright, let them know – I heard you, I want you to succeed, I understand who you are, I’m still here for you. Do little things to root for another along the way.
8) Share your wisdom through whatever means necessary. And if you’re on the receiving end of this gift? Soak it in. Take it to heart. Then Go. Live it out. For real.
9) When someone’s moved you, impacted you so much that you can’t keep it inside anymore, tell them. Let them know they made a difference in your life, even if it’s a little uncomfortable. It might just mean the world to them.
10) Buy something for someone who has more needs than you can humanly satisfy. Then prepare yourself to Go. Meet them right where they are. Go beyond your borders, out of your comfort zone, just Go.
11) Give generously and creatively to someone who has more than they ever need. Because they don’t need more things. They need to see and receive the love and generosity of the human heart. Let the little child buy you cookies with money from their piggy bank, let them use up all the play-doh to create you a plaque that says “best parents ever.”
12) When your God-sized dream comes up when you’re least expecting, in the most unlikely of conversations, and now you have to reveal a bit because there’s no other way out? Don’t run from the truth. Share it. Speak it. Get those dreams and desires out of your mind and out into the world. In speaking even just a bit of your truth, you might just discover there’s a reason that person’s been in your life all these years – they have a similar God-sized dream as you. And now, you’ve given someone the gift of confirmation, maybe this really is God’s plan for me?
13) Surprise your love with more than just a bit of bling. Wear it, receive it, know it’s a gift – for you.
14) Sing the song of your heart. Let your voice be heard. Don’t silence the artist inside of you. And when it’s time to watch, time to listen to another’s masterpiece, do it up big. Turn up the volume. Sit in the middle of the room. And let yourself be rescued.