I know many of you reading this are master givers. There’s the other side of the coin, though:
the art of receiving
I had a compliment on my hair last week from the two gals who run the office at my sons’ school. “Your short cut really suits you! It’s so cute!” My first inclination was to say, “And I didn’t even flat iron it today!” but instead I said, “It’s a good thing because I love it! Thank you for saying that!” and I hoofed it out of there before I could completely negate the compliment. Sigh.
Most of us aren’t very good at receiving gifts and compliments.
Why we’re bad at receiving
It so happens that I love to give gifts. It’s my love language! I’m a writer and very expressive but giving gifts is still my favorite way to express appreciation, care or affection. I give out goodies bags, books and “surprizes” on a regular basis and I’ve been known to give someone a piece of jewelry off my body.
As a rule, I would much rather give than receive. Can you relate?
It’s uncomfortable to me to accept gifts. I never even enjoyed my own baby showers. I love pretty things and I have people in my life who give me trinkets and goodies but I’d still prefer to be the gifter and not the gift-ee.
We’re bad at receiving because we’d much rather give. Plus we lack practice in receiving!
When people praise me or give me positive feedback, I have to make an effort to hear them and take it to heart. It’s easier to just shrug it off. Having that attention makes me squirmy.
I am an encourager. I love complimenting people! Every time I greet someone I know, I instinctively open with a compliment. When I observe people helping others or using their gifts, I praise them. I love to see their sheepish smile or watch them break out into a grin.
Encouraging people is like oxygen to me. If you take that away, I’d want to just go live in a hole.
The irony of being an encourager is that you need and relish encouragement from others, yet it feels awkward when it happens.
There is so much pleasure in giving gifts and in complimenting people, right??
But when I compliment someone and they dismiss it or downplay it? It kinda hurts my feelings.
I hate to think of how many times I’ve done that when I dismiss someone’s kindness.
When we reject or shrug off those gifts and compliments, we are denying the giver the pleasure.
The bottom line
God loves to give us gifts. I believe He takes great pleasure in helping me find the perfect gift, card or trinket to pass on to someone…because that’s His heart toward me. In the same way that I delight in the recipient’s pleasure, He delights in my pleasure when He blesses me, shows me favor or sends a little love note my way.
The perfect rose on the beach. A neighbor’s oranges right off the tree. Running into an old friend in a parking lot. Catching a whiff of jasmine in the air. God’s gifts.
My sons. A new friendship. A writing gig I wasn’t expecting. A nudge to send a single friend a card for Mother’s Day and it turns out to be the perfect timing. God’s gifts.
The fruit of the spirit. Peace. A restored relationship. God’s gifts.
When we’re not good at receiving gifts and compliments from people, it means we’re probably in the habit of rejecting God’s gifts, too.
Whether we’re too busy to appreciate the nudges, we chalk them up to coincidence or we rush past them…imagine how God feels when we toss His gifts aside with little or no regard.
The remedy: resting and receiving
I’m a do-er and a giver. I know many of my readers are, too.
So just like in many areas of life, I’ve had to be intentional about mastering the art of receiving.
R&R typically refers to “rest and relaxation.” Something you do on vacation.
I set aside time on a weekly basis for R&R…but I call it “resting and receiving.” I try to do it on Sundays but any day will do.
For the givers among us, it is critical to take time to be still and quiet and just BE. To cease the striving and the service and simply listen. Maybe you save your thank-you notes, testimonials or accolades and sit down on a Saturday to allow them to sink in. Maybe you get out into nature alone to quiet your mind and take time to contemplate what God has been revealing to you–what gifts you need to open and enjoy. Maybe you start a gratitude journal to record those “God gifts” you encounter. I guarantee that the more you take time to appreciate them, the more you’ll notice.
Like my encounter in the school office, we have to practice the art of receiving.
When you graciously accept a compliment, the recipient will feel good, too. And when you appreciate and utilize God’s gifts, He will be pleased.