Following my article on How to Give, my thoughts wandered to the other side of the equation. Namely, that some of us have difficulty in receiving gifts. In our day, even a simple gift gives rise to suspicion in the mind of the receiver that “there must be strings attached.” What does he/she want in return? I do not deserve this, so, what’s going on? Thus, another list.
How to Receive— A Seven Point Primer
- Accept the gift, responding with gratitude, without any sense of obligation to return one. To do so makes the gift a pawn on a chessboard; it becomes a game, barter, if you will, a contractual relationship, and lessens both the gift AND the giver.
- Admit that you do not have everything you need, let alone what you want. Distinguish between the two. Accepting a gift that covers a need is not charity; well, actually it is: but it is charity in its purest form— LOVE. Accepting a gift of desire, be it a gift card to Walmart or Neiman Marcus, are both gifts of love. Respond reverently. [note: I love white chocolate.]
- Accept a gift with thanksgiving, especially if given out of a sense of obligation. Whether in an office or extended family, many gifts are given out of a sense of obligation. [Fruit cakes come to mind.] Accept these gifts, no matter how horrible, with external joy and internal wonder. For even gifts of obligation are still gifts. Be thankful.
- Accepting a gift, given in sacrifice, will help you grow in humility. Receiving a gift can be particularly difficult when you know that the giver has sacrificed to give you this gift. For whatever reason, they chose to honor you with a gift of their hands, their labor. Why? That is their business. The fact that they have done so should elicit a great sense of humility in you.
- Accepting a gift, given in humility, will help you diminish your pride. If it does not, you have a problem. Some people have a grand sense of William Henley’s poem INVICTIS. “…I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.”They are islands, standing alone against the foe, unconnected to family & community by stubborn pride. Gifts become challenges to their independence and individualism.
Really!?! Their pride is not a symbol of their strength, but a sign of their resistance in becoming part of anything beyond themselves. Isolationism in any form is not safe; it is dangerous. So come on, accept gifts given in humility with humility. Make sense?
- You cannot give what you have not received. Unless the love of God is in you, you will run out of strength to love others, and yourself. To receive God’s love is to enable yourself to give, and receive, with abandon. ‘Nough said.
- Remember, “To whom much is given much will be required.” Receiving gifts should empower you tremendously. Receiving a gift in genuine humility and graciousness will enable you to both love and give with little thought of what you might receive in return. Thus, though much will be required of you, you will be more than willing to give it gladly.
Thank you, one and all!