Last Sunday, I participated in a meditation/discussion time with Cami Walker, who wrote
29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life.
Cami was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago. Her lifestyle was severely compromised by the illness. During a time of frustration, she consulted a spiritual mentor who attempted to pull her out of self-pity by saying, "Cami, I think you need to stop thinking about yourself." Cami was stunned into silence. The mentor continued, "If you spend all of your time and energy focusing on your pain, you're feeding the disease. You're making it worse by putting all of your attention there. I'm going to give you a tool to help you dig yourself out. I want you to give away 29 gifts in 29 days. These gifts don't have to be material things. By giving you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life. Giving of any kind is taking a positive action that begins the process of change. It will shift your energy for life."Although Cami was reluctant, she decided to follow the mentor's advice. She chronicles the 29 days of giving in her book and at the end describes the multitude of changes in her life that have resulted.
I was somewhat hesitant to try giving intentionally for 29 days, because she also discusses what possibilities for receiving might occur as a result. "Giving with the expectation of receiving? Doesn't Jesus say "It is more blessed to give than to receive?" Besides one thing I have worked on in my own life is letting go of expectations of what a person might do with a gift I offer, especially if he/she does something completely opposite of what I intended.
Then I recognized the resistance I felt almost immediately to the possibility of receiving something. Receiving always makes me uncomfortable. As I explored the resistance more closely, I realized that I needed to confront my own sense of worth -- a constant struggle from trauma during the first two decades of my life. However, I kept reading the book and decided to begin my own documented 29 days of giving. I discovered that finding ways to give was easy -- opening a door for the person coming into a store behind me, greeting someone with "good morning," offering the person behind me in line at Target my place since this mother had two fussy children.
I quickly discovered after only two days that as I became more aware of ways to gift others, I was more aware of the way others were gifting me, such as someone I had not seen for several months from church, giving me a hug when we encountered each other unexpectedly. I found that I was feeling better about myself, not from an egotistical stance, but from being present to another in a moment in time.
So far, I have completed four days. I'll let you know how it goes.
Jacquie Reed, Fishers, Indiana