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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.
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Join the discussion: How do you feel on the receiving end? What has someone done for you that surprised you?
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