Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Letting someone else wash your feet (or your undies for that matter)

When was the last time you made yourself seriously vulnerable by putting your reputation, your money, your emotional stability on the line?

When I think about risky vulnerability, I think about apologising for something even when I think I'm more deserving of an apology. I think about asking, really asking for feedback. I think about loving someone who won't love me back.

I'm pretty good at vulnerability when it's on my terms (I will share x with you at the time I specify), but not when it's on others' terms (You want me to share x with you, right now?). I'm good at apologies that make it impossible for the other person not to forgive me (I'm really sorry for x, I really didn't mean it, and I know it hurt you. Hopefully you're not too mad at me). I'm good at asking for criticism in a way that puts myself down before the other person can, ultimately risking very little.

I'm hopeless at genuine vulnerability.

And there's a whole other genre of vulnerability I'm only just working out - the vulnerability of accepting unsolicited help and love from others.

In the last few months I've been gifted many things; coffees, accommodation, meals, a listening ear, hand-written letters, cards, financial support and many prayers. Even our neighbours recently gave us their vacuum cleaner for no reason.

You might expect my immediate response to these beautiful actions to be thankfulness. And it is, but intermingled with a strong sense of indebtedness to the person. Twisted, huh? Even getting a letter in the mail makes me feel slightly bad. My heart goes like this: "YAY a letter!. Wow, that person's so nice. I must to do something in return."

I always feel the need to pay the person back, to return the favour, to out-do their generosity. It becomes a challenge when you actually physically or financially can't. A friend of mine at church who recently came down with chronic fatigue says it's incredibly strange being on the receiving end of help all of a sudden, being the weak one, the helpless one.

But like her, in the midst of my guilt-complex, I'm learning about grace; the unmerited favour that rains down from above in the form of God-become-man; the salvation I did nothing to earn and do nothing to keep. I'm learning to let the beautiful, pure, almighty Jesus wash my filthy feet.

And I'm asking myself: Will I receive God's grace, full of wonder, awe and thankfulness or will I try to buy it with my worthless rags, cheapening it as I do?

What about you, do you struggle with accepting unsolicited love and help from others?


Thora and Dean said...

genuinely thought provoking post my friend. thanks

Kath said...

Thanks Soph. I was just thinking about this recently, too. I'm realising that I must seem a bit prickly and awkward sometimes when my friends try to love me. Your comments about our desire to repay people for their goodness to us are insightful. I do that, and you are right that it cheapens the gift.

sophg said...

Isn't it funny how our prickliness can communicate thanklessness, when in fact we're almost overwhelmed by the generosity.