Traditionally, Easter finds me sitting in a Church reviewing the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Very important, I agree. However, this Easter I found myself somewhere altogether different.
Where, you ask? I found myself in an assisted living home. Easter Sunday, I and my wife gathered together with a close friend for dinner. Our friend, a woman in her mid-eighties who recently lost her husband. She is a resilient woman and is working through her grief in a healthy manner. She eats right and exercises daily. However, these aren’t the main coping mechanism she uses to work through her grief. The primary and most important thing she does is: She walks headlong into her vulnerability and strives to make new friends. She has only lived at the home for a month and already she has come to know almost everyone, over a hundred people. The real news is, she has made about ten good friends.
Now, you would think my wife and I were there to support and visit with our friend. You would be right. However, she wasn’t the only reason we were there on this Easter. The reason came to light at the ending of our meal. We slid our chairs out and began to leave the table when our friend said, “Can you hold on a minute? I need to push my wheelchair ridden friend back to her room.” I learned earlier, this woman was normally pushed to and from the dining hall by our friend. But, today the wheelchair bound lady was pushed to the meal by someone else and that person had to leave dinner early. After our friend spoke, “I asked, would it be possible for me to help her to her room?” The woman in the wheel chair said, “I hate to be a bother. I couldn’t possibly trouble you.” I said, “It is no trouble at all.” As I pushed her towards her room we chatted a little. Then, I proposed this thought to her. I said, “It’s much easier to be the one pushing than the one being pushed, isn’t it?” She responded, “Yes, it truly is. It is more comfortable to give than receive.” When she made this statement neither one of us were thinking about physical disability. We were thinking of an emotional disability many people, including myself, those with and without physical disabilities, suffer from.
This emotional disability is called “The inability to comfortably receive.” It is a disability because it inhibits healthy emotional movement. It keeps a person stuck in a “giver only” pattern. If I had to guess at the cause I would say it is because of cultural guilt. The guilt of not being good enough, to receive. The guilt of not giving enough, to receive.
I see this pattern a lot during the Easter season. During this season, the inability to receive concerns me not solely for the emotional repercussions. But, for the spiritual repercussions as well. When I get concerned about this topic I think this thought. “God sent his Son to die on a cross for me. Then He resurrected his Son on Easter Sunday so I may be saved and have eternal life. If I can’t receive from others in this life. How can I receive Christ’s invitation to the next?”
This Easter wasn’t traditional. I don’t think it has to be traditional and redundant. And, apparently neither does the Holy Spirit. I did not find myself in an assisted living home on Easter Sunday by chance. No, I found myself there because I and a woman in her wheelchair needed to know: The balance of life and spirituality is achieved only when our reception equals our generosity.