Written by Shanna Kirkpatrick, Chara Founder
Accept The Gift
A couple months ago, I was at the Friendswood Starbucks drive-thru that is notoriously known for its long line. Another car was coming to the line from a non-traditional direction, and I let the driver cut in front of me. When I got to the window to pick up my drink, the barista told me that it had been paid for by the driver of the car in front of me—the person I had let in.
The barista then asked if I would like to “pay it backward,” a trend that has become popular at Starbucks over the years where the driver in front pays for the order of the driver behind them. I took a couple of seconds to think and then surprised myself by politely replying “No, thank you.” I’m sure the barista was just as surprised as I was. It’s probably not the most frequent response given the situation!
As I drove away with my chai tea latte with almond milk, a sense of guilt came over me. I wondered, “Did the barista think I’m a jerk for not passing it on?” Then I remembered that in my pause after his question I had heard a small voice say, “Just accept the gift.”
In that brief moment, I had to humble myself and accept the gift with no strings attached—without an impulsive reaction to dismiss it, gloss over it, or give it away. Simply put, I chose to be grateful for the act of kindness without any further expectation, of them or of myself.
We live in a culture of self-sufficiency and privacy and because of that, often our tendency is to refuse the gift, thinking we are protecting ourselves, or to think we are unworthy of it. Sometimes we think we would be a burden to others or that we must respond in a certain way (perhaps in a way that doesn’t feel authentic). Not “paying it backward” wasn’t a slight. It was subconsciously an exercise in humility.
During this busy season of giving and receiving, let’s be the kind of giver who doesn’t expect something in return; who gives with the hope that the recipient will stand comfortably in acceptance. Alternatively, when we are on the receiving side of generosity, may we embrace the generosity that washes over us. How special it is to experience both perspectives, and to be fully present in these moments that bring more layers of compassion, love, and kindness into our lives.