Have you ever struggled with something that comes easily to others? Years ago, a neighbor of mine in Kirkland, Wash., shared with me that she was learning to receive. Learning to receive? The qualifications to receive something seem pretty simple on the surface. You embrace the gift and the gift-giver with graciousness and you say thank you.
It was easy for me to dispense this advice, because as a gift-giver, that’s exactly how I want the recipient of my gifts to react. I’m not a random gift-giver or a serial re-gifter. I know each receiver of my gifts, and I invest my resources in crafting a meaningful package – sometimes bought and sometimes homemade. And what do I want in return? I simply want to know they loved it. That’s all. I never give gifts to get something in return. Gift giving is one of my love languages, so to thoroughly experience maximum pleasure, I want to hear the joy, surprise, appreciation in their voice. I want to see their eyes light up or, if they are at a distance, I want to actually imagine them opening, loving and using the gift I sent. Knowing I brightened their day is the best reward!
So imagine my confusion about a week ago when my mom revealed, “You give but you do not know how to receive.” Did I forget to say thank you for something, I wondered. What brought this on? I didn’t need to ask. Without pausing, mom shared what was on her mind.
“You cook for me. I eat it. You bring me gifts. I use them. You offer to take me to appointments. I say yes. But every time I ask what I can bring, you say you don’t need anything. When I cook, you tell me you’ve already eaten. When I try to give you something, you tell me you have everything you need. The only explanation that makes sense is that you aren’t very good at receiving,” mom said.
It’s weird to admit but mom is right. I do prefer to give than receive, mostly because I am embarrassed when I operate from a position of need. I’m terrified my friends and family will pity me or feel sorry for me. It’s less vulnerable for me to simply manage my own needs.
I’m having surgery next week, and many of my friends have offered to help me when I get home, take me to appointments, make meals or visit. It shocked me how difficult it was to accept help. Mom was right, and upon realizing this, I’ve had to give this entire conversation a lot of thought. It made me think back to my neighbor so many years ago. Had someone pointed this out to her? How did she know she needed to learn to receive better?
Just then, the phone rang. It was my friend Liberty calling to say my peach pie was in her oven baking. Every year, she donates a homemade peach pie to the school foundation auction and she makes a second gluten-free peach pie for me. Her pies are perfection and I’ve never struggled to accept this gift. But it’s one of the few gifts that I accept so cheerfully. I love that she makes this for me each year (despite the fact I have to freeze half right away so I’m not tempted to “counter nibble it” until it’s gone.)
Liberty is like family. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to excitedly and graciously receive this gift. It feels good to receive this gift – just as it does to cook, can and find gifts for her. While I don’t want to be that person who ever takes advantage of someone, I’m going to work on receiving. I liken it to growing pains.
Oh wow! Just received Lib’s response to my IG post about her pie. Confirms I’m on the right path!
I appreciate how great it feels to make something, do something or put together a special package for people who are important in my life. I guess it’s only right that I give them the same opportunity to surprise me with gifts of love and acts of service they imagined.