Until recently I didn’t know the term “Indian Giving” wasn’t politically correct. Once I found out, I was obviously embarrassed.
Apparently, the actual meaning of Indian Giving is the complete opposite of what I thought it was– Americans giving Native Americans pieces of land, and then taking it away once they realized the land had worth. The term actually refers to Native Americans giving gifts to the Pilgrims and expecting gifts in return. It sounds to me like a classic case of miscommunication, since the Native Americans were probably trying to trade goods with the Pilgrims.
Anyway, my entire life I’ve never really been able to accept a gift. I’ve always felt indebted to the gift-giver, and didn’t feel satisfied until I felt I had repaid the gift.
This year, I’ve learned that gifts aren’t supposed to be returned. Knowing the definition of “gift” wasn’t enough. I had to actually experience it.
I recently spent a week in the Canadian wilderness with a group of women. During the trip, we each had to focus on how our individual strengths would strengthen the group to ensure we made it to our campsite each day before dark. We also each had to accept our weaknesses and know not one of us was fully equipped to complete every task without the help of each other.
While in the wild, my weaknesses glared at me and I became frustrated with myself for being unable to do certain tasks on my own. Every time I failed or had to accept help, I punished myself.
The wilderness broke me. I had to realize and accept that I can’t do everything on my own. I had to humbly accept help and lean on the strengths of others. I had to trust God in that he put together our group knowing we would each bring out strengths and weaknesses to the wilderness. I had to accept the gifts of grace, patience and mercy the women showed me knowing that I might not be able to give those gifts back.
And then I had to gift myself grace, mercy and patience.