Several years ago, one of my employers paid for me to attend a Dale Carnegie class. It taught me to be less self conscious speaking in public, that my natural enthusiasm needn't be kept under a bushel, and for a temporary period of time...the names of the original thirteen colonies in order. It is a pretty neat course that has its cheesy moments...but also has some pretty incredible "aha!" moments as you are memorizing everybody's name and figuring out what it is that you are going to talk about next. In fact, ten years later...I still have the pen I won for being voted "best speech" one night. I also learned that you will never be as horrible speaking in front of people as you think. Or even if you aer...people are forgiving.
One of the other important things I learned...other than "if you want to be enthusiastic...you have to act enthusiastic" was "expect ingratitude." The first one gave me the courage to just be myself and the latter gave me permission to let other people be who they are as well.
Let me say that again..."expect ingratitude."
Just to say consider how hard this is to master...let me throw out some scenarios I've witnessed lately on various "walls" around Facebook, in my inbox, or in conversations with friends. I am not suggesting that people are not entitled to be hurt, offended, or angry. I'm just saying that they would be a lot happier if they expected nothing out of other people.
Because if you expect ingratitude...people just might surprise you. And not only may they surprise you...but you might even surprise yourself by enjoying serving just for the joy of serving.
I mean, there are some people that we pretty much expect some gratitude from...at least at Christmas, Mothers'/Fathers' Day and our birthday. We have birth to them or adopted them into our family, we've endured much and hoped even more. But outside of our children...we really cannot demand that people appreciate us. And even with our kids...it's not even possible sometimes. At times, teenagers are heinous...self-centered and downright annoying. And some people never outgrow that.
How many times have we signed up to do something at church, school, at the ballfield, or in the community and had our ideas shot down, our offering snubbed, or the plum assignments given to the people who do everything? If you answered "never" - then consider yourself lucky...or totally uninvolved. The rest of us normally enthusiastically take something on...only to find that we don't really know the rules of the game. And often, we will do something that we think is pretty great...and find that nobody cares. Or it wasn't as awesome as the year before. Or it will be discontinued for lack of interest the year after. Hey, it happens.
Other times, we are sick or have experienced a loss, and we wonder why people don't take the time to figure out that we might need some support. We are the ones there with the casseroles, the cards, or the shoulder, and when it is our turn...everyone is AWOL. We expect people to value us enough to pick up a phone, send a line, or try to provide some comfort. The truth is...people are often doing all that they can to survive what is in their immediate environment. Private people will try to deal with it personally before broadcasting. So, someone's lack of interest in your problem, issue, or illness...may be because they have bigger fish to fry.
Or it could be that they are just insensitive jerks. But more often than not, they mean well.
So, when you do something for someone else...do it because you want to do it...not so they will take care of you at some later date. And don't assume that because they are silent that they do not care. Everyone is different...and some people don't really know what to say...what to do...or how to interact with you.
Or they are just boneheads.
Just remember to do what you do for the sole purpose of desiring to do something. Don't expect anyone to care, comment, be there, send a thank you note, be eternally grateful, or to even notice. I mean...brides and graduates should send thank you notes. Not to do so is tacky. But, for everything else...change your audience.
If you do everything "unto the Lord" - you will receive the applause of heaven. You may not hear words or praise or encouragement here, but you are being granted treasure in heaven. And you'll find that you are happier when you quit noticing where other people fail you, fall short, or are apathetic.
A LOT happier.
So, forgive people their shortcomings...yes, even family. It is sometimes the hardest to forgive...but to not do so means that you are only hurting yourself. Don't think that it means that your friends aren't true, don't care, or aren't worthy of your continued friendship. It means that all of us have different gifts...and sometimes the person who will go to bat for you to receive justice is nowhere to be found when you need mercy, care, or understanding. You just have to decide if you want to keep the relationship. If you don't...in some cases, it will be your loss. And in others...not so much a loss as a reality check.
Expect ingratitude. Expect that people will fall short. Understand that nobody is perfect. And then prepare to be surprised when people are thankful, caring, and loving. But even if they aren't...know that God may not see that you get everything you want...but He will see to it that you get everything you need.