The Art of Graceful Receiving
The season of giving is here, and with it many opportunities to share of ourselves, to give generously of our time and treasure to better and brighten the lives of those we know and those we don’t.
It feels good, doesn’t it, to imagine the gifts we give blessing their recipients, perhaps fulfilling a wish or meeting a need? A big part of what makes the Christmas season feel so magical is the love and caring that goes into the gifts we give that bless and delight the receiver.
I love Christmas giving—shopping for just the right gift, donating to causes I care about, and sharing goodies from my kitchen. It’s wonderful to feel so in the flow of prosperity. And I’ll be honest. I love receiving too. But I don’t love receiving because I like being given things. I’ve learned to love it because graceful receiving is the best gift for the giver and the perfect way to compound their joy.
A Lesson in Receiving
Most of us have been taught over the years to be generous givers, but how many of us have been taught to be graceful receivers? I don’t mean polite receivers. That’s easy enough. We’ve been told from childhood to always say “thank you” and that “it’s the thought that counts” when given a gift that might not be the best fit.
But there is an altogether different meaning of what it means to be a graceful receiver, and I’m grateful to have learned it from a dear friend.
Give generously and receive gracefully and feel the joy of being one of the many channels through which God’s goodness flows into the world.
Years ago when I was planning my wedding, my friend declined the invitation because she didn’t have the money for the flight and hotel. I didn’t want her to miss the wedding, so I booked a flight in her name and surprised her with it.
And she was surprised. After a few moments of gasps and happy tears, she said, “Thank you! This is so great! I’m so excited I can come to your wedding!”
As happy as her words made me feel, I was more delighted by what she didn’t say. She didn’t ask me if I was sure. She didn’t tell me the gift was too much or offer to reimburse me. Instead, she received gracefully and gave me the gift of her joy.
Chances are you’ve been able to offer a gift or a kindness to someone, only to have your gesture be met with resistance. You know how it goes:
“I’d like to do this for you.”
(Pained expression) “Are you sure?”
“Yes, of course, I’m sure.”
“Oh, I can’t let you do that.”
“Why not? I want to”.
“It’s too much. I can’t pay you back.”
“You don’t have to pay me. It’s fine, really.”
“I wouldn’t feel right about it.”
And on and on and on.
If you’re on the giving side of this conversation, the exchange can be deflating. There is joy in giving, but so much resistance on the part of the receiver is like rain on a parade.
One Source, Many Channels
When you give generously, you’re in the flow. When you receive gracefully, you’re also in the flow and are compounding the giver’s joy. That is the gift you give.
Through her joyous, enthusiastic receiving, my friend understood her good was not so much coming from me as it was coming through me. This is the key to graceful receiving: remembering God as the source from which all blessings flow. Throughout our lives, there will be many channels through which our good comes to us, some expected and some not. Sometimes you will be the unexpected channel for someone else. Other times they will be the unexpected channel for you.
If you resist the gifts that come to you by not feeling deserving, you’re denying your good and blocking the flow of prosperity. When you receive gracefully, you’re not just saying yes to the giver. You’re also saying yes to everything God is. You’re saying yes to abundance. You’re saying yes to love. You’re saying yes to life. How wonderful is that?
On Christmas and on every day of the year, may you be willing to share in the world’s abundance. Give generously and receive gracefully and feel the joy of being one of the many channels through which God’s goodness flows into the world.