One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession.
Two of my closest friends are struggling with cancer. So when I saw Radical Remissions, I picked it up. Kelly Turner, the author, has researched authenticated cases of remissions or cures from cancer.
She found one key factor to recovery is accepting love and support. Not just receiving the neighbour’s casserole, but accepting it with a grateful heart. Not as easy as it sounds, We like giving, but are uncomfortable being given to. Charity is a dirty word. No wonder the Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive. None of us like being beholden.
A friend whose grandson was badly injured in an accident, said wearily how exhausting it was being grateful – for fundraisers, prayer vigils and other community kindness. She was touched and helped, but in our modern society being indebted is a burden.
Ben, living in a poor, black, rural South African community once asked me why my widowed father lived alone and not with me. I tried to explain he wanted to be Independant – to be met with blank incomprehension. Why would he want to live icily alone on a different continent? I couldn’t explain and I felt ashamed of our Western culture.
What happens when we open our hearts to receive? How do we change? Who do we become? Warmer, softer, grateful, not just to those who helped us, but to a world where such kindness can flow. Humbled, because it takes humility to accept help. Healed, if not physically, emotionally. You only have to watch the grace of cancer sufferers who have found community and courage from their friends’ support. To the point they can say, from their hearts, “Cancer has given me a blessing, been a wake-up call.”
My mother always pushed gifts aside: “Don’t let the children waste their money on me.” I always countered, “It’s exactly what they should be doing.” How else will they grow up to be decent, generous people?
Her attitude was catching, so this Mother’s Day, I determined to change – be more open and accepting. Was it just coincidence that this year, the kids went overboard? Or that a child I helped years ago burst out of Facebook with a Mother’s Day tribute?
Or synchronicity – a friend who is a minister, out of the blue, explained how we need to love ourselves to be able to give love to others. Janice Pascual talks about our receiving capabilities being jammed. Mine were wooden with disuse – I had got used to evaluating my day by what I have done for others. I never realized how I was denying others the richness of generosity. I learned that accepting opened a faucet in my heart which flowed on out to everyone I touched.
A boy with cerebral palsy, who could only write with a pen held between his teeth, summed it up. “I am so lucky with my CP that I only see the best side of people.” He’s right – people are at their kindest, competition stripped away when they help others worse off. And he had the insight to accept this as a blessing.
And I find that when I allow myself the vulnerability to accept help, I am also more able to hand it on.
Radical Remissions: the Nine Key Factors that Can Make a Real Difference by Kelly H. Turner, PhD
Radical Remission website. Search by cancer type for personal stories of people who have beaten the medical odds by going into remission or their cancer has gone away or submit your own – link
Tiny Buddha – How to Receive Gratefully, instead of Rejecting Kindness by Janice F. Pascual – link