Monday, March 21, 2011

gifts and shadows

Something I read on another blog recently has me thinking about giving. As in giving of ourselves through what we create. I'm choosing not to direct you to the blog because I don't want my comments here to appear as any kind of indictment of what is written there. The blog post catalyzed my thinking, evoked memories and feelings, and my train of thought since then is my own. But I know what it feels like to have someone refer to a post you've written and gotten feelings hurt unintentionally.

One of the ways I give of myself is to make things for other people. Like the cross stitch I am doing for my grandsons. Like sweaters I have knit, quilts I have made, clothes and Halloween costumes I have sewn, scrapbook albums I have created, and so on. Let there be no mistake, I find joy in the creating, a sort of incarnational expression of love for the recipient. One hopes, of course, that the recipient will be pleased with and appreciate what is created and given, but how something is received is not tied to the desire to create and give. The heart wants to give and share a part of itself, and so we find a way to express what is in our hearts through what we create.

Over the years I have created and given a number and variety of things to the people in my life. If memory serves, such gifts have been acknowledged with gladness and love, and generally, with enthusiasm.

There have been other times when I have invested myself in creating an experience for others that isn't about relationship, but is about offering a part of myself. For example, a number of years ago I picked up some odds and ends for a kind of grab bag at a vestry retreat. No one knew that they would be receiving any sort of gift. The grab bag event took place toward the end of the retreat. It was fun, involved laughter and the kind of kibbitzing that bore witness to the bonding that had taken place during our time together. To a person, no one acknowledged the thought behind it or referred to the grab bag ever again. That was disappointing.

I have done other grab bags, or things like that, and none have received a word of thanks or even recognition. I don't create to give with strings attached. I do claim that it is disappointing not to have the effort acknowledged or appreciated. I ask myself sometimes why I bother, but it never stops me from doing it again. I give of myself because it is what I want to do.

All of us face disappointment when what we give of ourselves goes unnoticed or unacknowledged. Whether it's something we've created, a skill we bring to a project or the workplace, or an expression of compassion, we share who we are. How are you affected by and how do you process such disappointment?

4 comments:

Mary Beth said...

:(

I write about it, sort of talking myself through it. Or I take a walk, with the same self-talk.

Hugs

The Bug said...

I used to make birthday cards for my entire extended family - inlaws too. Every now & then I would get an acknowledgment - but not that often. And Mike & I didn't get any extra cards for our birthdays. I finally decided that if they weren't really enjoying them then why waste my time? And I felt bad because I really enjoyed making the cards, but in the end I wanted some sort of recognition, so I guess I didn't really have altruistic motives :)

Debi said...

When a genuine offering of kindness or compassion isn't acknowledged or is left unnoticed it digs deep into a lifelong feeling of unworthiness. What is reinforced deep within my heart is that I am invisible, unlovable, unwanted. Before I got sober 26 years ago, I would drink to numb that pain. Nowadays I struggle not to retreat into myself

Terri said...

I don't give many gifts...and I give even fewer gifts that I made...BUT I really appreciate receiving gifts, especially handmade gifts - and HOPE I always take the time to thank the person....(making mental note to be even more attentive to this).

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