The Lost Art of Receiving
It is better to receive than to give, right? Isn't that how the saying goes? Alright, maybe I have the saying backwards, but it's true sometimes! There is a special kind of grace to receiving hospitality, gifts, and help. As a child, my father taught me to always accept what a host offers (even if you do not like what is offered to you), and, as an adult, I understand now. I have prepared homemade pumpkin bread and a fresh pot of coffee for a visitor and looked forward to their comfort and delight when they enjoyed it, only to feel deflated when they refused. Consequently, receiving can be a gift to the giver.
Doesn’t it feel good to be needed? By allowing someone to help you, you grant that satisfaction to your helper. As a mom (and I know I’m not alone here), I intrinsically strive to meet everyone’s needs. When all the balls are rolling, there are a million boxes are checked, and you are knee deep in the mom-trenches, it may seem like you have all the pressure in the world, but it is still really difficult to accept help. It’s as if accepting help means you can’t “mom” well enough, and that makes us feel uncomfortable.
The other day, my parents watched my little girls so I could run an errand, and I came home to find my mother finishing up cleaning my kitchen sink. I cringed and started to apologize for how filthy it was, but I stopped myself and just thanked her. This sounds silly, but I can’t tell you how hopeful a clean kitchen sink is. Accepting the help graciously gave me permission to admit that I can’t do everything perfectly, and that’s ok. I also know that my mom felt needed by me when she gave her time and help.
The Gift You Can't Repay
I’m sure that at some point in our lives, each of us has received a gift we cannot repay. In those situations, it can be so awkward to be the receiver. Several years ago, my grandfather gifted my husband and I an interest-free loan so that we could buy a furnace. Our new (but very old) house did not have a heater, and our first daughter was on the way. We hesitantly accepted, but after our first payment, he forgave the entire debt! There was no arguing with him at that point. He said it made him happy, and that was good enough. He has since passed away, but every time I hear the click of the heater turn on, I thank him. His generosity was overwhelming, and it created such a deep well of gratitude. The only way to re-pay a gift like that is to enjoy it.
Being the giver in this type of situation is completely different. Have you ever given a gift to someone knowing they can’t re-pay you? It’s pure joy! It feels a little like being Santa Claus, especially if you do it in secret and with no strings attached. I still get all the feels when I think about the time that I was able to give a gift like that to a friend. I have lost touch with her now, but I do not regret giving her that gift.
That old adage about giving being superior to receiving needs revision in my opinion. Each person in the exchange benefits from a gift! Besides, if we all stayed busy giving, we would miss the blessings there are in the receiving. Give the giver the opportunity to feel joy, to feel needed, and to be pleased with their effort. Receive graciously and give yourself a break—it’s ok to just enjoy a gift!
~ Amy Thai (Awesome Gift Curator)