During my years doing mission work in Appalachia, we were taught how important it was for those we were serving to be able to give back. We were to always take whatever was offered to us whether it was ice tea or a full meal. This is a direct contradiction to what I was taught growing up. I was taught to never accept such gifts as it was an imposition on the host. Yet, something seemed right about what I learned on the mountain.
This began my journey to learn how to receive well. I am better at it but not great. I don’t want to deny others the joy, and I still don’t want to be an imposition. I recently received a couple of unexpected and unnecessary gifts. One, I accepted. One, I returned.
The one I returned has brought much reflection on gift, the giver and what means to receive well. This time returning the gift was about love not about denying myself. In the past I would return or deny someones generosity because somewhere deep within myself I didn’t think I deserved it. I didn’t think I was worth it.
Here is the problem. If I am not deserving of someones generosity, grace, and even love, how can I be deserving of God’s love? I believe there is a direct relationship between my ability to accept God’s abundant love, generosity and grace and my ability to receive it in human form. The message to myself that I don’t deserve a gift is the same self message that says I don’t deserve God’s gift. There is a sense that I am not worth being loved so completely. The gift of the cross tells us the exact opposite.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
(John 3:16-17 NIV).
It took prayer and reflection to confirm within myself that returning this gift was also an act of love and not about denying myself. I guess I have made progress. If someone was offering me their help, I don’t know that I would come to the same conclusion. I guess I still have work to do.
Will you join me in doing the work? Are you denying yourself the gifts of others and the gifts of God? You are worth it. Start telling yourself that and you will begin to believe it. Challenge yourself to say yes the next time generosity is offered. It will open the door to a deeper sense of being loved by God. You don’t want to miss out on that.
How have you learned to receive well? Share your stories here and we can encourage each other.