I enjoy cooking, so last Thanksgiving I wanted to prepare everything for the meal. My mother-in-law has been cooking for eighty plus years and I thought it would be a great gift for her to have a break. So when she asked what she could bring I said, “How about you just come and enjoy the day.” From the look on her face I immediately knew she was disappointed. But in that moment I was only focused on my desire to give her the gift of not having to cook.
Later that day it hit me. While I thought I was giving her a gift I was actually refusing her the pleasure she gets from cooking. I called her and said, “Elsa, what do you want to bring.” I heard her light up, “I’d like to make the dressing and Brussels sprouts with mushrooms, onion and garlic too,” she said with joy in her voice. “That will be wonderful,” I told her.
Thanksgiving is about gratitude and I am grateful to have honored her desire to contribute. In the end I really did give her the best gift and it gave me so much more joy than the happiness I thought she would get from not having to cook.
Today I want to talk with you about the side of love that receives with the same grace it gives. I understand completely how good it feels to give to others. We get such satisfaction and joy from freely giving of ourselves and our resources. What a loving act of grace it is to give. And, because we know how fantastic it feels to give, why does it seem so hard for some of us to receive with the same grace? Aren’t we denying the giver the same pleasure we get from giving?
If you are uncomfortable receiving, I challenge you to open your heart. The next time someone gives you something just say, “Thank you.” Put yourself in their position. Remember how it feels to give and be told, “You shouldn’t have or I don’t deserve this.” You don’t want someone who gives you a gift to feel bad because you cannot accept graciously. It is love that lets you feel what it’s like to be the one who gives. It is love that also lets you feel what it is like to graciously receive.
Love yourself and others by accepting the gifts you receive with the same grace with which you give. Doing so is giving the gift of respect to those you give to you. Remember a joy-filled heart is one that graciously gives and receives.