Why It’s Hard to Be a Gracious Receiver

At the convenience store tucked along a corridor of the Atlanta airport, I am next in line to pay for my bottles of water and packages of string cheese.

I un-tuck the water from my arms and hand her my credit card. She swipes the card.

“Denied,” she says.

She swipes it again.

“I’m sorry,” she says, handing me the card. “It’s been denied twice.”

My mind races. My purse with other cards is back at the gate.

“Does it say why?” I ask.

“No.”

Then I remember how we are headed out of the country. “Must be because of the travel notification I placed on the card saying we would be out of the country starting today,” I say. Trying to explain it to myself and her.

I mumble, embarrassed, that I will return with another card.

But when I arrive at the gate, the plane is beginning to board.

“Forget the water,” my husband says, “we will be boarding soon.”

I gather my backpack and wait for our section to be called.

I notice a lady is standing nearby, handing me a plastic bag. “This is yours,” she says.

I glance at her and the bag. I’ve seen neither before. And I must look confused.

“It’s your water,” she says, holding the bag closer. “We are on the same flight. I heard about your card and got it for you.”

I smile and thank her. Then she is gone, gathering her own items for boarding.

My son steps up. “Mom, what’s in the bag?”

I tell him about trying to buy the water, my card being denied, and the lady paying for my purchases and bringing them to me.

“That’s so nice,” he says.

And it is. She didn’t need to do it. But what a blessing that she did. Her kindness lifts my spirits and I feel taken care of. Seen.

But I also feel a bit weird. Like maybe I need to rush over and hand her cash to refund her.

Or find something to do for her.

For a second, I wonder what I did to deserve this.

Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.

What are your internal thoughts when receiving?

 

Probably something similar has happened to you.

Someone passing on a little kindness.

Blessing your day.

Seeing you need help.

Stopping to notice you for a moment.

And I am sure you do, and have done, random act of kindness for others.

But what are your thoughts and how do you feel when someone gives you something?

Gratitude? Or embarrassment?

Thankfulness? Or thinking you don’t deserve it?

Amazement? Or wondering what they want in return?

Happiness? Or thinking there is something wrong with the person to give you something?

Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.

 

Why it’s hard to be a gracious receiver.

 

If you are like me, you are a doer. And probably feel best when you are the one doing the act of kindness.

Maybe because then we feel like we are in control. (We decide where, who, when, etc. )

Maybe because it is a bit scary to be on the receiving end. (What if we don’t like what they are giving? Or would rather do it our self? Or have someone else do it?)

Maybe we don’t want to be indebted to others. Or think strings will be attached.

Maybe we see receivers as selfish, and we don’t want to be selfish.

Maybe we feel we don’t deserve the thing given. Or haven’t earned it.

Maybe we have heard the verse, it’s better to give than receive, and we want to be the givers. (They do sound more important, don’t they?)

Maybe we just have a hard time receiving due to our childhood, feeling of worth, background experiences, or our thoughts on giving and receiving.

Whatever the reason, my guess is that some people would rather be on the giving end. And they have a hard time being on the receiving end.

Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.

Learning to graciously receive gifts from others.

 

It can be hard to be on the receiving end. I would rather give than receive.

One Christmas season I was mainly in bed due to morning sickness. I was worried my husband would forget to get me a gift. And then when he gave me a ring, which I thought was rather extravagant, I was worried that he spent too much. And of course, said so. Taking some of his joy as the giver.

You see, I wanted a gift, but on my terms and guidelines. (Which isn’t very nice to the giver, because if they don’t do it right, according to us, then we can get blamed for not doing it right).

Over the years, I have come to realize I need to do a better job at receiving gifts. To receive them with without feeling indebted. To receive them joyfully.

I know I don’t want to do acts of service for others and then get grilled about my gift

Be questioned about my motives.

Be told it was unnecessary. A waste of money or time. Or told I did it wrong.

And neither do others.

It leaves a sour taste in the giver’s mouth, and our prideful mouth too.

We need to learn to be appreciative and gracious receivers.

Take the focus off our self and put it on them. They don’t give gifts or do things for us because we earned it or deserve it. But because they want to.

When our five-year-old gives us a back rub that feels like a tickle fest on our back, say thank you.

When a friend brings us a dinner of minestone soup, when we had a hankering for fried chicken, tell them what a blessing they are.

When someone motions for us go first at the four-way stop, graciously nod your head and go first.

When someone gives us what we consider an extravagant gift, stop your mouth from saying anything unkind. A thank you, a big hug, and a smile will do.

When someone offers to babysit, say yes and thank you.

When your kid throws their arms around you and says they love you, quit thinking about how you are not a good enough mom, and love them back.

Learn to receive the gift without scorn, guilt, embarrassment, or thinking they should not go to all that trouble.

Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.

 

We need both, so be a grateful receiver.

 

My dad used to say, “We need receivers for there to be givers.”

He was a giver. He did for others. Served at church. Fixed wash machines of single mothers. Gave gas money for families in need. Took his neighbor grocery shopping. Listened to people no one had time to listen to.

I know it was hard for him to be on the receiving end of someone doing for him. He was lecturing himself too.

But he was right. If we were all givers, who would be receiving? And without receivers, how would the givers be blessed?

We want to be gracious receivers.

Receivers of the gifts from those around us.

Receivers of God’s free gifts. Which can most definitely seem extravagant. (Especially on our not so good days.)

He gives grace, not scorn. Forgiveness, not condemnation. Blessings not curses. Good, not bad gifts.

Not because we deserve them. Or have earned them. But because he loves us. Wants to shower them on us. Because he sees us and knows us intimately. Because he sees us through Christ’s worthiness and work. Because we are part of his family.

Let’s be grateful receivers. It’s one of the best gifts we can give the giver.

Joyful for what we are given.

Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.

 

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa


Having trouble enjoying life? Reconciling your current reality with how you wish life really was? Get a free PDF with 12 tips to help you enjoy your life right now. Subscribe and join the journey. You will also receive weekly encouragement and hope tied up with some humor. Because life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: How do you feel on the receiving end? What has someone done for you that surprised you?

Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.

May link up at Kelly Balarie (#purposeful faitht), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#porchstories).

Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.

Why is it harder to receive gifts, than give gifts. Stop being critical of them or yourself. Receiving gifts graciously is a gift we can give the giver.

 

The Life of Experience and Changing Perspectives

An out-of-state friend and I text back and forth. Setting a time to call and discuss a book we were reading.

(Which of course, often turns into a catch-up-and-gab time. Oh, and let’s-talk-about-the-book before we hang up time.)

We decide to call tomorrow. 2:00

Tomorrow arrives, and after looking at my calendar that morning, I remember the scheduled chat. I even remember once again as I was eating lunch.

Next thing I knew the sun was setting, I was cleaning up dinner plates, and 2:00 had clearly come and gone.

It wasn’t the first self-made plan that hadn’t taken shape at my house. Nor will it be the last.

I know this fact – that plans can fail to turn out as planned — as deeply as I know my name. Time and experience have instilled this in my mind multiple times over. (As if I keep forgetting it and need to be reminded yet again.)

I texted my friend. “Dear me!!! I think we both forgot we were going to talk today at 2:00. Oh well! Life!!”

And I could almost hear her laughing an hour later when she texted back.

Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.

 

Life’s Education.

 

Life has a way of educating us. Smoothing us. Calming us. Providing perspective.

If this had happened in my earlier days, say my 20’s. I would have been horrified I forgot to call. Embarrassed and worried when she didn’t call me. Stressed that I had somehow given her the wrong impression of me or my intensions. I may have even worried it into a shape bigger than a bread box and asked my husband’s opinion. By bedtime, I would have worried it into the shape of an empty room complete with a trapped rhino.

And this I know for a fact. Rhinos are not good bed fellows. They keep you up with all their moving and leg kicking. And then their horn is pretty sharp, so you have to be careful of where their head is located, in relation to you.

By the first light of dawn, I would have had blood shot eyes from lack of sleep. And convinced myself that I was now facing a mini crisis.

I do not miss those sleepless days where I doubted and mico-analyzed myself and life.

Nope, I have told that rhino to sleep elsewhere. That the bed is to small for him to sleep with me anymore.

Yup, after life educating me over and over with anything and everything not going as planned, and still the world not collapsing in on itself like a black hole sucking me into another dimension, I am much calmer and am able to take things more in stride.

At least most of the time.

Because I am done with churning stomachs and stress and worry turning into a downward funnel that sucks my joy into nothingness.

Well, at least most days.

And if I catch myself soon enough, the rhino is only a squirrel.

Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.

 

In the big scheme of things (and life), it probably doesn’t matter that much.

 

That’s what I have learned over the years.

After many mishaps and things going zig and zag, instead of linear as I planned in my Day-Timer and brain. I have realized that most things don’t carry as much weight as I initially think they may.

What things? You may be asking?

Not getting dinner made.

Forgetting someone’s name and calling them something totally unrelated.

Little boys peeing in the front yard. 

Babies shooting things from both ends onto my clothes.

Showing up a day late for a birthday party.

Tossing the unopened Amazon box out and the garbage team collecting it before I remember.

Forgetting to bring food to the potluck.

My son’s bird pooping on a guest.

My child having a meltdown during church.

Being late. Being early. Not even showing up.

Not getting the bible study lesson read before the meeting.

Burning dinner minutes before company arrives.

Forgetting to call my friend at 2:00.

Yup. Things like this happen to most people. (Even if they don’t admit it.)

This is all just part of life. (Or at least my life.)

Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.

 

The benefits of perspective.

 

Finally learning that life rarely goes as planned, but instead takes detours and crosses mountain passes without warning, has its benefits.

I am calmer.

I can laugh at myself and life more.

I can save my energy for more important things, like that afternoon nap.

I can just breathe and let it go.

And I try not to base my worth on what I do or don’t do.

I have also leaned grace and compassion for myself and others. (Because I see their life not going as planned sometimes!)

Yup, if your kid has a meltdown in swim class, I am more sympathetic and don’t judge. I think, hey, I can relate. And will probably toss you a smile and words of encouragement. Because I have been there.

That’s the great thing about the Life of Experience. It slowly chips away and changes your perspective.

You begin to take yourself and the detours of life a little less seriously.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


Having trouble enjoying life? Reconciling your current reality with how you wish life really was? Get a free PDF with 12 tips to help you enjoy your life right now. Subscribe and join the journey. You will also receive weekly encouragement and hope tied up with some humor. Because life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: How has your perspective changed over the years?

Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.

May link up at Kelly Balarie (#purposeful faitht), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#porchstories).


Sometimes you meet a friendly, but wild squirel, who wants a little petting!

Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.

Learning from life experiences changes everything. Suddenly those things you thought mattered so much, don't really. Because now you have perspective.

Why I Am Starting This Year Without New Goals

Sometimes we get so excited to execute new goals that we set ourselves up for failure.

When I was a teen, our pastor announced that he was going to focus on the fruits of the Spirit. Each week he would discuss a different fruit.

Well, I was humble enough to know there was some room for improvement in my life, even if I thought I was well on my way to being practically perfect.

So, I devised a plan for myself. Or a goal.

Each week I would focus on learning and practicing the fruit discussed that week. Within nine weeks, I would have mastered those 9 different fruits and would be able to then focus on improving myself in other ways. (Like learning to speak German well enough to raise bilingual children!)

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

Executing my plan and setting the goal.

 

Well things started out pretty good, with the first fruit being love.

My heart was already pretty much full of love. At my tender age I didn’t have any enemies I hated. And while my siblings would get on my nerves, I still loved them.

The first week coasted by and I thought things were going just fine. I seemed to have this love fruit down. Maybe a tweak here or there, but basically one fruit mastered.

The second week was joy. Yes, the pastor talked about joy in trials, which I was experiencing none of at the moment, but I was pretty certain that I would be joyful during a hard trial. Afterall, I was a cup-half-full kind of girl. A spot-the-positive, and keep-moving type.

Yup, I had joy and love down. This developing new fruit goal was cruising along like a freshly released frisbee.

Week three arrived. Peace. I inwardly laughed. Were these fruits all going to be so easy?

I looked inward and examined my heart. I was at peace with the world. At peace with my peers, family, teachers, and authority. Peace reigned in my heart. I slept well and wasn’t really to worried about much.

Well except that I was anxious that Jesus might return before I had a chance to grow up and really get to live life. I was hoping he would delay his coming until I had at least gotten married. Or got to live life more than currently had.

Three fruits accomplished. Six more to go.

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

Hitting a goal snag.

 

Week four was about longsuffering. Or as the pastor said, extreme patience.

Well my teen ears perked up. I was after all, a patient person. Living in a family with six siblings and only two bathrooms, one had to be.

Then he droned on about how longsuffering meant having already, or showing, patience during troubles, but especially towards troubles caused by other people.

Well that caused me to suck my breath inward. Maybe I had finally hit upon a fruit that would challenge me and take a bit of work.

Well I was one who enjoyed a challenge. I was pretty sure I had this.

But it turned out I was wrong.

That week clearly showed I was not oozing over with long-suffering. Patience was not a virtue I had mastered. And as the individual week days were crossed off, it became apparent, even to my over rated self-concept, that patience would not be checked off, or accomplished, within my seven-day window for self-improvement.

By now, you are probably laughing at me. And right you should be.

Because by the end of those nine weeks, I had not mastered patience. (Or as I realized years later, any of those other nine fruits.)

Maybe because I had too much schoolwork. To many siblings. Or I was confronted with too many situations that required patience (I was thinking one situation a day would provide better mastery).

But most likely, because we can’t develop patience in a week. (Although before children, I did think I was a rather patient person. Parenthood, though, helped me realize the truth.)

Here it is years later, and I am still struggling with being patient. In fact, I will be struggling with learning and displaying the fruits of the Spirit until I am called home.

Partly because they don’t come naturally. They are instead a struggle. A doing what I don’t want to do, but know I should do.

It seems so many things in life are like this.

A struggle. An unnatural fight against myself.

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

When does your year and goal setting start?

 

With the start of a new year, I keep reading about setting goals. Keep hearing about the goals others are setting. And have been asked about my goals for this new year.

I don’t know about you, but January does not seem like a new year for me, but a continuation of the last year. My year instead, seems to follow the academic calendar. For me, the beginning of a new school year feels like a new year.

That’s when I am setting goals and trying new things. Committing to do things differently.

Probably because I am a mother and my life revolves around the school year. Maybe because I am a teacher.

While others are setting goals and endeavoring to accomplish and do things differently, this January I am not setting any big goals. I am just continuing to carry on and complete the goals I set last August and September.

Here’s what I have been asking myself:

*. what has been working in my life?

*. And in what areas can I keep improving?

These are the questions that are keeping me on course.

Around last fall, I started yoga, and find it very relaxing and beneficial. So, I want to continue it. Maybe even add another class time.

I also started deciding a loose meal plan for the week. I pull out 5-8 different dinner recipes, and then each morning I choose which to make for that day. I like the flexibility of being able to select which meal works best for that day and the amount of time I have.

Walking more. I have always been a walker, but often with others. This fall I started walking more by myself, and find I like the time to think and contemplate. Sometimes I listen to a podcast. But I am finding I enjoy it and want to keep improving in this area. Especially now that it is winter, and I am walking less outside.

I was doing such a good job of taking breaks and getting outside several times a day. Even just a few minutes can be such a head clearer and mood changer. With winter, though, I need to improve in this area.

Staying off my phone on weekends and later evenings has been working and I want to continue this habit.

Remembering to greet God hello first thing in the morning and pray for a few friends before I get out of bed is something, I also want to continue.

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

How not to fail at your goals.

 

There is a joy and excitement in setting new goals. And there is a joy and excitement in seeing that you are making progress. That some things are working in your life. That you can modifying and stop goals that are not serving their purpose.

I don’t know which place you are in. Making new goals, or working on old goals, but I do know that lots of small steps will eventually accomplish big things and over time develop large changes.

Reading one chapter a day, may not seem like much, but it will get you through about 30 books in a year.

Often our goals, or life changes, take more than a week or nine. Or even six months. Things like being a good mother. Eating healthy. Getting in shape. Living debt free. Losing weight. Starting a business. Worrying less.

These are more life time goals, or a period of life goals. Not easily accomplished in a small amount of time.

There is a big difference between a to-do list item and a goal. One can be accomplished in the short-term. Things like cleaning a closet. Finishing a book. Attending today’s yoga class. Eating a healthy dinner. Goals, though, take many days of effort and consciously making the right choice time and time again. Like being physically fit. Organizing and cleaning the whole house. Reading 20 books in a year.

Tasks can be done and crossed off short-term. Goals require making a conscious choice to complete steps towards the goal day after and day.

And here is another sticky trap about goals. We can’t get healthy after a week of eating kale and chia seed smoothies. It takes making good food choices for the long-term. It requires a change to the way we think about our food and choose our food. It requires forming new habits.

And that is hard. And it is one reason we get discouraged and give up on our goals.

So many goals require doing them long-term, or maybe life term. We won’t just wake up suddenly having reached our patient-threshold after years of trying to be patient and can now quit thinking about being patient ever again.

We won’t wake up with an organized and clutter free house and never have to devote any more energy again on that task. No, we will be tossing things we don’t need or want for the rest of our life if we want it to stay organized and clutter free.

So, keep plodding away. Slow and steady wins.

And once in a while, look back and see how far you have come. (But always, give yourself grace. No shame allowed.)

You do that, and I’ll keep working on conquering the fruit of patience.

Achieving a goal requires the conscious choice to complete steps toward that goal day after day.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


Having trouble enjoying life? Reconciling your current reality with how you wish life really was? Get a free PDF with 12 tips to help you enjoy your life right now. Subscribe and join the journey. You will also receive weekly encouragement and hope tied up with some humor. Because life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: Are you a January goal setter? What is working in your life?

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

May link up at Kelly Balarie (#purposeful faitht), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#porchstories).

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.

 

Instead of working on new goals, we sometimes need to keep working on our old goals.