For years, people said I was generous whenever they spoke about me. I took it as a compliment but didn’t do it for attention or the credit, I gave to others because it made me happy. It still does, but what I’ve learned recently is that knowing how to receive is just as important as understanding the value of giving.
My in-laws are well off, in a way my family never was when I was younger. So they spoil my kids for Christmas and birthdays, and I appreciate it, because a child’s smile is priceless. But I have a hard time accepting their generosity in the same way.
It just feels…wrong. Why should I allow someone to rain gifts on me when I can’t do the same for them? How can I feel good about myself when I can’t spend tons of money on someone that clearly spent close to $500+ on awesome things for me and my husband and kids for Christmas?
“Oh, hey, thanks for these hundreds of dollars in gift cards, did ya enjoy those socks I thought were pretty when I bought them for $9 at the Gap?”
But it’s not always about what makes us feel good, or in control.
As a soft-spoken person, who used to be shy, it really strikes me as a challenge to have to have these conversations with the people in my life that are family, but not related to me by blood. And to be fair, it’s sometimes awkward to say the same thanks to my parents when they loan me money for tuition or bills, but since I’m a mom, I get that you would do almost anything for your kids. Therefore, it’s easier for me to see where my parents are coming from.
My in-laws are a different story, and when friends extend themselves to me in the same way, too, I just about have a heart attack trying to find a way to not be in debt to these people.
But what have I just learned? That God wants us to know how to receive just as much as he is thrilled when we give.
This was a hard truth to swallow but it was also one I quickly learned to accept when my world fell apart last fall.
My husband had just left me and I hadn’t slept in 4 days when I finally gave in and said that enough was enough. My pride couldn’t make it so that I wasn’t taking care of myself when my kids needed me the most, so I gave up.
It was the beginning of a long process that I’ve since called my “refining fire”, but the morning I had to call girls from my Bible group at 5:30 and 6am to figure out who could watch my kids so I could sleep for a few hours, I became a new person.
Help was okay to accept.
Now, if I need help, I’m not ashamed or afraid to ask for it. Sure, there are only a few that I hold in a close confidence to ask for help, and there are still times when I don’t ask, but coming to terms with the fact that God wants us to receive is powerful.
Not only do we need to learn that as people, and moms, we can’t handle everything ourselves, but we have to see that people get joy from giving just as much as we do. So you can’t be the “giver” always and prance around acting like you’re humble for saying no to those who want to do the same for you, but you need to be accepting. Sometimes you need to receive instead of pushing away.
Christians, like me, receive God’s grace and forgiveness because it’s the only way to enter His kingdom. So how can it be wrong to accept when others want to offer themselves to us?
Of course you shouldn’t take advantage of others, and even the Bible says that we are not to help everyone but that there are criteria so that Christians aren’t fooled, but we shouldn’t take away the blessing of someone who wants to be there for us when we need something they are offering. My point is that God puts people in our paths that can give us support and lift us when we don’t have other means, and if we never open ourselves up to generosity we might miss it.
Thank God today for those in your life that have been angels when you felt most desperate and lost, and remember that it’s not an embarrassment to receive. We can’t always be the givers, even though it’s easier than receiving for some people.