Recently, I was having a discussion with my Aunt about a challenge I was having relating to giving of my time and myself. Let me go back a little bit, I am a giver – I used to be a really bad giver in the sense that I gave until it hurt, but thankfully now I have grown to a level of giving with wisdom rather than just blindly giving. But, when I give I have a tendency to expect that when I am in need those I have given to will be there to give to me. They may not be able to give at the level that I had given to them, but I expect at the very least a supportive “I’m here for you.” After talking to my Aunt, I realize that I am alone in my feelings on this and so I decided to write this post so together we can work through it.
So, how do we get past it when the people we give to (and the giving could be tangible items like money or non-tangible items like time) aren’t available to give back to us. How do you handle it? How do you get past the frustration that could occur from not receiving from those that you have given to? The answer is simple - be thankful for who is with you. That sounds a little different, but it’s what we have to do - be thankful for those who are there for us. Let me explain.
When I first learned about the principle of seed time and harvest time from a biblical perspective years ago, the one thing I expected was that my seed would come back to me the same way or better than it was given out. So, if I sowed $500 I expected to receive that or more back, but when my understanding matured, I understood that my seed would not always come back to me the way I gave it (and sometimes it would). For example, I have sown books into people, but I did not receive the books back, I received what I needed at the time (money, time, favor, etc.) as a harvest. So, what does this have to do with being thankful? Everything! You see when we give to people, whether it’s our money, our time or something else, we are sowing seeds into their lives that will one day produce a harvest for us. Here is an example, last year I won a prize that included a significant amount of grocery store gift cards and I knew that a friend of mine had a need for groceries, so I took her grocery shopping and let her get what she needed for her family. But, recently when I was in need of groceries, it was not my friend that brought groceries for my family, it was someone else. Even though I did not sow a seed into the person who brought us groceries, I received a harvest from the seed I had sown into someone who had a need last year. The example I gave is just one of many I could point out and yet, when faced with a different situation earlier this week, I was frustrated by the lack of harvest I received from someone I'd sown into and I had to take the moment to really find out why. The reason I was frustrated was simply because I was looking for my harvest in the wrong place. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever expected someone to do something for you only to end up with disappointment? Have you ever been on the expecting end of a deal only to be let down after giving all that you had? If so, then you know exactly how I felt (past tense).
In my situation, I was frustrated because someone that I cared deeply for and admired very much had yet to acknowledge a need and in fact, they were in my estimation having a very selfish moment. I didn’t need anything from this person, but I did want their support, but I was met with a conversation that lacked empathy and compassion. When I sought to reap the harvest I had sown into them, there was no harvest available. I had sown seeds, but when it came time for me to reap the harvest, I realized that was not where my harvest was. When my Aunt said to me, "be thankful for who’s with you and don’t worry about who isn’t" I was reminded that your harvest does not always come the way you think it should. We have to be thankful for the harvest when it comes and that may not be from the place you planted the seed. I believe God honors seed sowers, even when the seeds are non-tangible, and when the harvest comes, it may not be the way we think, but we have to recognize the harvest and be thankful for it.
As for me, I realized that I was expecting something that the other person was unwilling or unable to give me and I am now OK with that. I also understand that in the midst of my frustration about not seeing a harvest where I’d sown seed, God sent my Aunt to uplift me, encourage me and love on me (the harvest I was looking for). So, today I can tell you that I am not only thankful for her being there (harvest) but I recognize that God sent my harvest at just the right time to be a blessing in my life.
So, I say to you today, don’t be so caught up on where you’ve sown seeds that you miss the harvest coming up in a different location I know I almost did and boy, what a disaster that could have been. Be thankful for who's with you and as for those who are not, don't stop doing for them but do so with wisdom. This is a journey we're all taking together so as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I had a dream, well really a vision, and there were lots of people in line at a store waiting to receive something. The line of people went through the store and outside onto the street. The person who was providing the item, made a statement that I thought was powerful, basically she said, “act like this is you up here because soon it will be and you will want those behind you to treat you with patience and courtesy so do it for those in front of you.” I woke up not long after having the vision and knew that I needed to write this post.
One of the things about being thankful or living a thankful life is that you must have patience. I can fully admit to you that this is an area where God is still working on me, but one of the things that I try to do is to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I used to be someone who was very angry – a lot and in fact, it didn’t take a whole lot to push my buttons. I would cuss you out and not think twice about it and because I come from three generations of folks who could cuss you out, I knew just how to do it without hesitation. Now, if you have never experienced this side of me, please count it a blessing as those who have probably are not going to read this, but if they do, I ask for forgiveness because God has changed me for the better. Moving on, as I matured, things happened and I began to see the world differently. I began to wonder if I was missing something and indeed, I was. One of the things I began to learn to do is to put myself in the position of others, especially when my patience is not high. (Let me just pause here and let you know that even as I am writing this to you, this is a work in progress for me. I don’t have this perfected and the moment I think I do, God throws me a curve ball and I realize I’ve still got more growing to do. Listen to me if you are not learning, growing and evolving, check your pulse because you are probably dead. We should always be learning, growing, maturing, and evolving in our thinking – always!)
Here is a scenario of what I mean when I say put yourself in the position of someone else. Let’s say you are at the doctor’s office, your appointment was at 10 am, it’s now 10:30, and the nurse has yet to call you. There is an office full of patients and they were all there before you. You fidget with magazine after magazine, play a game or two on your phone, jump on social media and scroll through your timelines only to have it be 11:15 am when you finally get back to see your doctor. No one has come out to say anything to you (and they probably should have but let’s focus on you and me). The nurse takes you back and tells you that your doctor had a family emergency, his mother died this morning and they have been scrambling to put his patients with different physicians all morning. She says, unfortunately, the front desk had not been informed when you checked in because he received the call on his way into the office and you were his second appointment of the day. Since he is the best doctor they have, they had to call in a doctor to help see his patients and that is what took so long to get you back. Now, grant it, she surely could have come out to tell you that and let you make the choice to see another doctor; that is just excellent customer service, but she didn’t and now you know why. If you are still thinking she should have done it, you are missing my point. The point is this, your doctor has lost his mother, something he could not control at all and the office had to scramble for a scenario no one ever wants to talk about – the loss of a parent. What if that were you? What if that were you? I am asking the question a second time because I want you to pause and think about it. Reread the scenario if you need to but really think about it – what if that were you? You planned on being in the office and you get the call that your mother has transitioned. At that point, you are not thinking about how the office is going to handle your work. Your thought is about your mother and the loss you feel at the present moment. When you think about it like that it should make you rethink how patient or impatient you are. If it doesn’t, it should. I can be honest and tell you that in this scenario, I would have been climbing the walls myself, but I would have felt guilty the moment the nurse communicated to me what happened. I would have felt horrible about my level of impatience because I would now understand the wait (not that I would have liked it any less but I would understand it).
Here is another scenario for you to consider. Have you ever been stuck in traffic for miles? What is the first thing you think about? Is it what could be happening up ahead or is it how badly you need to get to your destination or is it a little of both? Factor in that you are low on gas, where do your thoughts go? Fast forward, and you get to the cause of the traffic jam – a 2 car crash with 1 fatality. How do you feel now about what you were thinking? If you are like most people, you were probably not really thinking of why traffic is snarled as much as you are thinking about what you need to be cooked, doing, etc. when you reach your destination, but what if you stopped thinking about you and started to be thankful that you avoided something and then begin to pray for whatever is going on ahead.
While the scenarios I provided were a bit exaggerated, we have all been caught sitting in the physician’s office longer than we planned. We’ve all been stuck in traffic and thought I need to get home now. I have as well, but I am learning to put myself in someone else’s shoes and while our society is a selfish one, we are designed to care about one another. This does not mean that you have people run all over you – no, that is not what I mean at all. It also does not mean you don’t get upset or have emotions, again not, what I am talking about. What I am saying is that there are scenarios where we get frustrated when we don’t necessarily have to; scenarios that take place in our lives that if we just took a moment to see how one might feel, we would change not only our attitude but also our perspective.
Perspective, that is the key word here; changing your perspective is key to really being thankful. Will you always get it right? No, you won’t. Do I always get it right? No, I don’t. But now I try to think about how someone else might feel when I hog the conversation; now instead of just talking to hear myself talk or vent to be venting, I let others speak their peace and I listen. Now, I try to think about what I am about to say before I say it and I think how will it make the other person feel. Do they really deserve the tone of voice I am giving? Or am I upset for something else and I am just taking it out on them because they simply asked me a question. The key for me is to never cause undue harm to anyone. I spent a lot of time regretting my bad behavior when it comes to dealing with people who are close to me, even in my thoughts. Listen, as much as we may think people deserve our bad behavior, they do not, even when they are acting a whole fool, we don’t have to go there with them; we have the right to walk away or take a breath and speak like civilized human beings. I know that this is a completely new concept for some of us, but it’s an idea that will revolutionize how you look at things. It does not mean I don’t have frustrations or issues, and it certainly does not mean I let people walk all over me, but I choose to not deal with people from a place of frustration and anger. I am beginning to see that it really isn’t all about me. So, the next time the cashier is taking so long be patient, you never know what’s happening ahead of you. The next time you are tempted to take your frustrations out on someone you love, stop to think about the damage you may cause, take a deep breath, speak if you need to or be silent if you don’t. What I am saying to you in all of this is that I want you to change your perspective. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary that we remember that just as you have emotions and feelings, others do too.
Liela Marie Fuller
Author, Mother, Friend, Believer in Jesus...Really Just Me.
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