8:45 PM (Randall posting): We're doing pretty well to get the girls bathed and in their rooms by now! Granted, neither one of them is asleep, but it is satisfying getting them in bed closer to their usual bedtime (8:30PM). Today was a day at home for me and the girls, Susan went in to work. The usual stuff (television, Clifford soup, and lots and lots of playing together and the occasional argument).
The greatest tragedy of the day was when the two girls seriously banged their heads together while playing (literally, not figuratively, which is usually the case). Both were crying and holding their heads. It was hard not to laugh. I got the two of them some ice for their noggins and told them that I was glad I had two hardheaded girls. They both laughed and all was right with the world again.
The latest Sophie mini-drama was that she was apparently constipated for most of the day today. If I took her to the potty once, I must have taken her a hundred times, with many, many false alarms. Of course, irony is no stranger to this household, so late this afternoon Sophie had a BM, only it wasn't on the potty. Since then, things have "settled down" a bit, if you know what I mean (and I think you do).
I've been thinking an awful lot about our situation of late. In the past month or so, it feels as if we've had enough time to fully grasp what is happening in our lives, and the normalizing process has taken hold enough that we are no longer forced to live in the moment.
One of the things that I've been thinking about has been how generous people have been towards us (and how needy we truly have been). When our friends loaned us their time-share for a couple of days for a much, much needed vacation, we quickly accepted their offer. While we were there, it was frankly kind of overwhelming that people were willing to give of themselves for us in such a fashion. And, of course, lots of people, from all over the country, have lifted us up in prayer, have contributed money to Sophie's treatment, and have otherwise offered a supportive e-mail or a kind word. It has been overwhelming, to say the least.
Anyway, my point is that it has been incredibly hard to be on the receiving end of such generosity. Much of it probably was not necessary (we have really good insurance coverage, so although we are facing some financial burdens with Sophie's treatment, we are in far, far better shape than most Americans). But whether it was necessary or not, people gave. We have tried to be diligent in thanking folks and if we have forgotten to thank anyone, we apologize and want to thank you now. The reality is, however, that we could never offer enough thanks, we could never possibly reciprocate in ways that would match what we have received, and therein lies the problem.
Why is it that we--needy, to be sure, but not overwhelmingly so--have found it so hard to just receive what has been offered in love and care and generosity? Someone suggested it might be pride, but I don't think that's the case. Rather, I think that as a society, we are conditioned to see gifts as part of some unspoken contract, a tit-for-tat even under the worst of circumstances. Whether or not the contract is fulfilled (and many times it is not), there is still the sense that if someone does something nice for you, you should reciprocate, even if it is just by saying "thank you." And, of course, our situation is quite unique. Not many of our friends or relatives or acquaintances will have needs quite like ours such that we might be able to give of ourselves in like manner.
I hope that what all of this rambling is pointing towards is the realization that we are learning to simply accept the generosity and gifts of others, in whatever way they come. We can never repay what has been given. We can never reciprocate in any true fashion. But what has been offered in love is slowly being seen not as part of some unspoken contract, but a genuine, unilateral outpouring of care and affection.
What I mean to be saying is that we have learned a lot, thus far, about grace--unmerited, unasked for, undeserved, unreciprocateable (if there is such a word), grace. Grace is sheer gift. And we have received such grace. And we have learned how "amazing" grace can truly be, and we are learning to recognize the grace that is and has been extended to us in other areas of our lives as well. Thanks be to God, the most generous giver (and gift) of all.