Today at Stew Leonard's (grocery store) I ran into my first "rejection." My little family had a receipt for over $100 from the store, and you can use it to get a free ice cream out front. I tried to give it to another woman who was standing in line for ice cream. She was holding a toddler on her hip. She was so uncomfortable and resistant to my offer. It just made me reflect on giving and getting and how suspicious we are of other people trying to do nice things.
Too many charities sending "free" return address labels, trying to guilt us into donating. I work for a company that administers private foundations and we handle their mail. We recently got about two dozen appeals from a veteran's charity, unsolicited, that included an actual $1 bill and said "you can keep it but we really hope you'll send us money instead." If I walk into a store, and someone asks "Can I help you?" my immediate reaction is "no, thanks" because I'm worried that accepting their help will obligate me to buy something.
Through all of these "gifts with strings" we've become bad at accepting things, not just from marketers but from each other. And while I have participated in the 29-Day Giving Challenge, I've realized that when my gifts are offered, it's with a great sense of hope and a desire to help and no expectation of receiving anything in return. Having that woman reject my receipt/ice cream actually hurt my feelings, if you can believe that. And I'm pretty sure I've been guilty of this myself.
So I'm resolving to try to accept the gifts of others with grace (including their offers to help). Realizing how offering a gift is like offering yourself, accepting a gift is like accepting the person who offered it. The next time a friend offers to babysit my kids for an afternoon, I'm going to take them up on it. And the next time the guy in the wine shop asks if he can help, I'm going to admit that I like sweet, fruity white wine and see if he can come up with something new.