When we chose this month’s word, Receive, I have to admit I was slightly giddy. I actually get pretty excited about picking out special gifts for others, giving gifts to others, and yes, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been a pretty big fan of receiving gifts, too! Call me selfish. (Ha! …Or human!) But I admit, I sometimes feel awkward or silly receiving gifts and blessings from others. It is much more natural to give.
A New Perspective on Receiving
When I was (very) pregnant with my youngest son—like 9 months, get-this-baby-out-of-my-belly pregnant (but not really because holy cow, how was I going to effectively parent TWO little ones…)— I recall sitting at my desk at work one afternoon when a colleague peeked into my office letting me know that someone was there to see me. Following that brief exchange, around the corner appeared my husband and my 3-year old son, smile beaming across his face. He had a tiny little package in his hand with a big bow, and immediately thrust it at me, “This is for you, Mommy!” It was probably one of the most unexpected little surprises I have ever received. After all, my husband was supposed to be at work and my son at school. They watched in eager anticipation as I opened the tiny little box. I wasn’t sure what to fixate on more – my son’s sweet face or the gift! The gift was a meaningful necklace, to signify the journey we were all on together as we expanded our family. It is a gift I still enjoy to this day; but in that moment, I realized that the little gift was so much more. It was thoughtfulness behind what would be meaningful to me. It was time to go and pick it out. It was temporary inconvenience to end an otherwise busy work day so that I could be surprised. It was anticipation, hope, and joy.
I think when we can truly appreciate the gift of receiving; it makes it all the sweeter to give!
We watch in anticipation because we know what it is like to receive – and we want to bring that blessing to others. After all, we’ve all heard it, “Tis better to give than to receive.’ (Acts 20:35) and “…God loves of cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7). It’s ironic isn’t it? Because I know God did not intend for the world to only be filled with givers – it needs receivers too. (God being the ultimate giver of everlasting life to those who receive – John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him wouldn’t perish, but would receive eternal life. (Emphasis mine.)
But why, especially as women, do we have such a tough time simply receiving?
Receiving complements—does this scenario sound familiar? Friend says, “Wow, I love that dress on you!” You respond, “Oh this thing? You won’t believe… I got this at TJMaxx… super cheap!” Or this is a favorite of mine: Friend says, “Your hair looks great today!” The response is, “UGH”, (Am I right ladies?!) “Really? I’m trying to grow it out/waiting for a cut/need a highlight…” Okay. One more. Friend says, “Let me treat to you to lunch today; I got it.” You say, “NO WAY, Let ME treat today! Truly, you don’t need to do that! I probably owe you anyway!” You get it. We chuckle at this, but these are the responses of roughly 95% of all women I know, including yours truly. Why can’t we just simply receive and say, “Thank you”? Why do we feel the need to over-explain, or overcompensate, for who knows what? Have you ever had a friend offer to go out of their way for you? Say, offer to bring a meal, help with kids, drive you somewhere, etc., and your immediate response is, “No I’m fine,” when quite frankly, you could really use the extra hand and said friend truly wants to help? Ladies… we’ve all been there.
I believe there is something more spiritual going on. The fact that we cannot simply receive says a lot about our hearts, and our feelings on our worthiness. We can each be the most generous person in the world, but if we are not in a regular posture of receiving, we are lacking. Think about it, if we have difficulty receiving a simple complement from a friend, how can we receive encouragement from the God of the Universe?! And friends, we are all so very worthy of receiving! God reminds us of that in His Word!
Have you ever thought that maybe God is using a friend’s gesture to HELP you?
We’re all God’s hands and feet, so consider that maybe – just maybe – He is sending your friend to encourage or to lend you and extra hand. Knowing that, would you turn down God? Turn the tables. I know our readers have been on the giving side and completely pushed away with a, “No, you’re too busy, too. You don’t need to do that for me.” You yearn for that friend to just receive your help. Let’s turn to the bible for some wisdom from the one who literally and figuratively wrote the Book on giving and receiving:
- Deuteronomy 16:17 – “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.”
- James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
- Romans 8:32 – “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
- Romans 5:5 – “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
- 2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
I think this world feeds us the lie that in order to truly be worthy of receiving something, we need to earn it in some way. John 16:24 says, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” God doesn’t say, “You will receive IF you do all of these other things, or IF you’re not busy…” God’s love and identity for us is simply a gift. The greatest gift of all. And we simply just need to receive it. Let’s practice by receiving the small blessings in our days this week—the encouragement from a friend, the lunch treat, the compliment… God’s gift of love knows no borders and he certainly doesn’t want us to limit how much of Him we receive. I know we all pour ourselves out day in and day out, but this week, I challenge us to channel our inner 8-year-old birthday girl and find opportunities to SIMPLY, and joyfully, RECEIVE.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17