Death, Dying, and Receiving


This is the Elm tree in front of my house. When we moved in 23 years ago, it barely gave any shade. Today it shelters our home from the mid-day heat (yes, it gets hot in Minnesota in the summer!).

elm tree in front of our house

But it is full of the Emerald Ash Borer and is in the last stages of dying. It has to come down. In fact, it’s coming down today.

Even though it’s full of dead branches, I don’t want to let it go. This tree is full of memories—like the time my son was learning to ride his bike, came careening down the cul-de-sac, forgot to use the brakes, and went up and over the edging we had at the time, over the handle bars, popped up and said, “I’m OK!” and went back to his daredevil ways—leaving me and my mama bear instincts on overdrive. Or the dozens of pictures I have of my kiddos standing by the tree as they head out on their first day of school.

We tried to save it. But when the city arborist came out this Spring he let us know the time to have started treatment would have been 6 years ago; without a Harry Potter-esque time turner, that option wasn’t even on the table.

If I’m honest with myself, I’ve seen the damage over the last few years, but I turned a blind eye to it because…well I wasn’t sure how to fix it, I was afraid it was going to be super expensive, and I just didn’t want to let it go. Instead, we have a 4 figure bill to take down the tree and it’s going to leave a gaping hole that will take time to fill.

How often do we turn a blind eye to things that we know are stopping us because we aren’t sure how to fix it? How often do we mull over the issue in our minds, shake our fist at the suffering, but not seek out the effective action step because we’re either afraid of the monetary cost or the mental cost of letting something go that has been a part of our identity for years?

The rules we have in our Receiving Contracts are woven into our identity:

  • Work hard
  • Be of service to everyone else first
  • It’s better to give than receive
  • Control first so that you don’t get controlled
  • Be the good girl / boy
  • No pain no gain
  • Self worth is measured by effort and bank account
  • No good came to those who were just “given” money
  • And more

So, even if we have a gut level feeling that we can have a much happier, peaceful, abundant life by changing the rules – there is a part of us that is afraid of the mental cost of releasing what has up to this point been an important part of our character. Our identity.

But, when we don’t make changes proactively, something in our life will eventually get our attention in a different way. Like a physical illness. Or a mental break. Or an ash tree that needs to be removed.

I invite you to start easing into shifting your Receiving Contract so that you can start to shift how you receive — and you can do it in small, momentum building steps on your terms.

Posted in