I don’t receive well…do you?? I don’t receive much of anything well. I don’t know what to do with compliments, can get downright resentful of anything if I perceive it to be a handout, and I’m not real fond of getting gifts, whether birthday, Christmas, or just because. It’s just one of my many “weirdities”!
I have spent a minute or two psychoanalyzing myself to come up with a plausible reason, but the greater question has now become how does this affect my relationship with God?
God blesses us; He gives us gifts. The Bible tells us He does, and I have been blessed by God. I have been blessed with 3 beautiful children, a wonderful husband, 3 great step children, a loving family, fabulous friends, a great job, sweet fur babies, shelter, clothing, a full tummy, wisdom (some would argue that!), etc. The blessings, or gifts, we receive from God are freely given. James 1:17 says, “Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights” (The Complete Jewish Bible).
Back to the subject. If someone gives, another receives; that just makes sense! But what if we have trouble receiving? Is it because of ingratitude? I can only answer for myself and the answer is “no”. I truly do appreciate being given gifts. And gifts come in all forms.
Sometimes we are given gifts for our birthday, or Christmas. At other times we are given something from the abundance of another during our time of lack. Like when we lose a job, or another unexpected event occurs and we can’t pay our rent, or light bills, or are in need of groceries, maybe even clothing. Ever been there? I have at different times in my life; as a child and as an adult.
All of our experiences in life teach us lessons about life, ourselves, and about God if we are open to those lessons. How we perceive those lessons, in part, determines our reactions in the future. When most people give of themselves, or their resources, they get warm fuzzy feelings; the act is a positive experience. Agreed? Receiving is a little different, at least in my opinion.
Receiving has a lot to do with our self worth; how we feel about ourselves. In general, do you feel worthy of the attention of others, gifts, help? If not, receiving from others is going to be difficult.
Self worth, how we feel about ourselves and our value as a human being, is formed in childhood. Not to dog on the birth family, but self worth begins at birth, and some say, even before birth. Feelings are communicated, often without any words involved. Sometimes how we interpret those feelings we get from others is flawed, sometimes not.
In any case, self worth is formed by our experiences with people. Our experiences in school are responsible for much of our feelings about ourselves; more than you might realize. If you were part of the “in” crowd, the “cool” kids, you probably don’t have any idea what I am talking about. I was not part of the “in” crowd or the “cool” kids, so I picked up early in life that I wasn’t as “worthy” as others. Those perceptions of ourselves are then internalized and many of our decisions are based on those internalized perceptions and feelings. (I’m no psychiatrist, but I have spent a great deal of my life studying the human condition and analyzing myself!) Our ability to “receive” well is affected by all of the above.
Understanding ourselves and reactions to events or situations is the beginning of changing reactions that we are at odds. with. If we have difficulty receiving, that attitude may transfer to receiving from God, and if God is the perfect “Giver” I don’t want to be ungrateful.
God often gives from His abundance, and out of His love for us through people. It’s not going to be a “supernatural” experience in most cases, the “gift” will come through others. I am reminded of the story of the man who prayed for God to rescue him from the rising floodwaters. God had warned him, sent a car, a canoe, a motorboat and finally a helicopter, but the man turned them down saying that he would wait for God to save him. Finally the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned. As he stood before God the man asked God why He hadn’t saved him. God answered with the ways He had sent help, and then asked the man what he had wanted instead.
I don’t want to be like the man in the story and miss God’s blessings, His provision when He gives. We miss the blessings and provision if we look for the “supernatural” because more often than not the blessings and provision will come from the hand of another. But that makes it harder to receive, at least for me it does, and that’s part of the lesson, too: to receive from God thru the hands of others. People are God’s hands and feet many times, and we need to learn to receive from others, understanding God is doing the giving.
Do I think God can’t or won’t give to us “supernaturally”? Not at all, I know He can. To receive from another, however, requires us to be humble, to be vulnerable before another, to leave our pride at the door.
Another lesson for another day…..