The Challenge of Receiving

By Barbara Laporte
The Challenge of Receiving

One Christmas, when my daughter was 6 years old, she received a gift that thrilled her so much she actually squealed when she opened it. What is remarkable about this is not that the gift was so fantastic, but that she received it so openly and joyfully.

How are you at receiving? If you don't necessarily squeal with delight, are you able to accept the gifts given to you and the love that goes with them? Or do you have difficulty receiving? Perhaps you are concerned that the gift costs too much or somehow you don't deserve it. Do you say to yourself, "Oh dear, they gave me more than I gave them,'" or maybe even, "I gave them more than they gave me"?

It could be that some of this resistance about accepting gifts comes from messages we heard as we were growing up, when many of us were taught that spirituality meant doing without. But as Catherine Ponder reminds us in her book Open Your Mind to Prosperity, "God is the source of your supply" and your "prosperity has a spiritual basis."

Each of us is a child of God, living in an abundant universe. As such, the universe is constantly working to meet our needs. However, we must be willing to accept the prosperity that comes into our lives. And prosperity certainly includes Christmas gifts—and other gifts the universe provides as well: good health, wonderful relationships; a fulfilling career, peace of mind; whatever you choose. But again, we must be willing to accept these gifts into our lives if we expect to continue to receive.

Imagine that there is one person in particular whom you want to give a very special gift. You've been putting a little money aside from several paychecks to pay for the item. You spend hours looking for just the right thing.  You have it beautifully gift wrapped, and finally, when the time is right, you present your gift to your friend.

How would you feel if at that point your friend were to say, "I can't accept this"? My guess is that it would be a long time before you felt inclined to give that person another gift. And so it is with the universe. When we snub the gifts available to us—no matter what the reason—the message we send the universe is, I don't want this gift. And it may be awhile before you have an opportunity to receive that gift again.

If you are unwilling to accept the simpler gifts of Christmas from your friends and family or the more incredible gifts from the universe, you cannot possibly be prepared to accept the most important gift of all—the gift of the Christ spirit being born within your heart!

One of the Christmas carols says "Let every heart prepare him room." This is another way of saying open your heart to the spiritual idea of having the Christ spirit be born within you. How do we do this—“prepare him room," become more willing to receive?

First, release any thoughts of unworthiness you may be clinging to. These thoughts may take strange forms, such as anger, fear, resentment, jealousy—any thought about yourself or others that is not a loving thought. One of the simplest exercises I know to release these kinds of thoughts is simply to say: I release all that is unlike love.

The next thing to do on your journey of becoming more willing to receive is to love yourself unconditionally. That means you don't get to say, "Oh, I'll love myself when I lose 20 pounds or when I win the lottery or when I get that promotion or after this or sometime later." It means, immediately, love yourself exactly the way you are! Look at yourself in the mirror—really look into your own eyes, say your name out loud, then say, "I love you." Do the everyday things mindfully—as you shave or wash your face, treat yourself gently and lovingly—as though you were caressing a newborn baby. As you treat yourself with respect, you will actually develop a new level of respect for yourself.

The universe has an interesting way of guiding you when you begin to focus on something like learning to love yourself. Often, this is the time when all the reminders about the less than lovable aspects of yourself seem to surface. For instance, you experience conflicts with people with whom you usually have no problem, you disappoint yourself in some way, or something that seems to indicate you aren't really lovable comes up. These outer events are not the truth of you. Rather, they are simply messages  from God to heal those aspects about yourself you find less than lovable—they are not validation for why you shouldn't love yourself! In fact, you can even think of these messages as more gifts to receive!

Third, practice receiving. Do this by giving yourself something you need or want—maybe it's just 10 minutes of quiet time each day. This is an especially valuable gift for those feeling overwhelmed with Christmas preparations. The key is to think of it as a gift to yourself and to give yourself permission to truly enjoy whatever it is—maybe a soak in a bubble bath, a massage, a new book that you've been wanting to read. Give yourself something, no strings attached, and say to yourself: "Thank you. I love you."

Finally, expect the best. If you are releasing all that is unlike love and loving yourself unconditionally, it makes sense that you expect the best—for yourself and others. Then you are not surprised or ungrateful when you receive the best the universe has to offer: perfect health, loving relationships, the job you've always wanted, peace of mind, whatever. And in expecting the best, you express the best. You let your inner light shine, and all who meet you are aware of your ability to truly represent all that the Christ child has come to give us.

And in this process, you have "prepared him room." You have opened your heart to the divine Love waiting to be born within your soul, the Christ spirit that is reborn in each of us, not just at Christmas but whenever we become willing to receive.

This Christmas, become willing to receive.

Release any thoughts unlike love.

Love yourself unconditionally.

Practice receiving.

Expect the best.

Yes, receive the gifts from your friends and family.

More than that, this Christmas become willing to receive the birth of divine Love—the Christ spirit—into your heart.

Indeed, when each of us has learned to do this, there will be peace on earth, goodwill to all.

Reprinted from the December 1994 issue of Unity Magazine®.