I have been the beneficiary of grace many times this summer. At times the show of goodwill toward me has brought me to tears. This grace has come in every area of my life, from helping with health and fitness goals to my friendships to my tarot stuff to my career.
Pardon me while I digress to tell a story relevant to all of this. A couple of weeks ago (through the grace of a business contact) I was put in touch with a prospective client. When I told this person my rates, they said I was outside their budget and asked me to refer them to someone else. When I told them I didn't know any other freelance copywriters to refer them to, they a) seemed to think I was lying and b) tried to convince me by saying, "if you don't refer people, people will never refer you."
I told them that I refer people all the time but that I don't seek out knowledge about other freelance copywriters. Besides, I have never been introduced to another freelance copywriter, I don't come across them in the course of my work, and while I've given advice to budding freelancers over the years, I'm not aware if they're still working or what their rates are. So part of it is just circumstance, but part of it is intentional. And it's intentional because if I knew their names, during the slow times I'd torture and distract myself by looking them up on Facebook, googling them and wondering if they're getting more business than me, instead of doing something about my situation. I don't want to fall into that trap.
Spiritually, I believe that there is plenty of pie for everyone to have a slice. It's not a competitive thing for me. It's a sanity thing. And I'd rather do what I need to weather the nearly two decades of ups and downs I've had as a freelancer than have a list on hand as a courtesy to people who don't want to hire me anyway. It's hard to weather the changing tides of being a consultant. This is one way I keep my head in the game.
I tell this story for a reason. And the reason is that the things we do for others are not tit for tat. You don't hold a door for someone so that someone will hold a door for you. You do it because you're nice and trying to help. That attitude will come back to you, but it may come in the form of someone letting you in line in front of them at the grocery store, for example. So there are two things going on here: 1. You do for others out of the kindness of your heart and not because you want something out of it and 2. You will be repaid, but maybe not in the way you think. There's also a third thing. 3. You get to choose how you help.
So as I was thinking of these moments of grace that had been bestowed upon me, I was wondering what I had done that was worthy? Why were these people reaching out to me so kindly, some of them people who don't know me well. And then I remembered...I do a lot of stuff for others without asking for anything in return. I pay it forward and I do it from a pure place—not a place of hoping it comes back to me. Still, there have been times over the years that I'm exhausted from doing for others and wonder when the energy will flow back my way. I think that's natural, but it's not why I do it.
Anyway, this summer I feel like I've received more than my share of grace from others. But do you know why more than usual have stepped up the plate? Because I let people know what I was going through. It's that simple. And the ones that could help volunteered without me even having to ask. I recently had dinner with a friend of mine who is one of the most selfless people I know and we were discussing how, when you're an independent person used to doing everything for yourself, it's hard to ask for help. Very hard. Since I left my parent's home 30 years ago, I've never had anyone to help with money, chores, dog rearing or anything else in my life. It doesn't even occur to you to ask for help after all that time.
But I've found lately that, when I've honestly expressed my fears and needs to people, they're very willing to help. Part of it is that, in recent years, I've purged relationships that were parasitic and replaced them with relationships that are more equitable. But part of it is that so many of us are willing to help if we know help is needed and if the help that's needed is something we can do and something that doesn't end up compromising our own needs. Knowing that people are there to help without you having to outright ask means a great deal.
So I want to thank the people who have offered to help, those who are helping and those who are helping but think I don't know what they're doing. Your kindness will come back to you. Maybe not from me. Maybe not in the same way. But when it comes, it will be beautiful and you'll be humbled by the generosity. You'll wonder what you've ever done to deserve it. And then, hopefully, you'll remember what you did for me and embrace the breathtaking blessings of your gifts of grace.