Dear Friends, It is the holiday season: the time for giving and receiving.
In the title of this piece, I have purposely reversed these words because so much more is written about giving — and how important giving is. Perhaps it will be a good idea to spend a few moments thinking together about receiving. Receiving gifts.
We are told, for example, that giving is better (more “blessed” according to Acts 20:35) than receiving. I have no doubt that all of this is important and true. I think that giving may, indeed, exhibit a higher virtue.
But to say that giving is more blessed than receiving is not to say that receiving has no value at all. And that is just the point. It may be that receiving involves a real, though lesser, blessedness. But it is blessedness nonetheless.
Do you ever consider that giving is much easier for us, psychologically, than receiving? To give a gift is to stand in a position of power; to receive one is to stand without power. Giving makes us feel strong; receiving can make us feel weak.
Over the years I have met so many otherwise wonderful and intelligent people who, when presented with a gift, become embarrassed and say truly stupid things, such as, “Oh, you shouldn’thave done this!”
I believe that one of the most important life-lessons all of us might learn is how to receive gifts in our lives, how to receive them truly, to receive them with sincerity and grace and an honest acknowledgement of how grateful we feel that the gift has been given.
And, let us not forget, if we ourselves are to experience the higher blessedness of giving, weneed to have receivers to receive! Without the receivers of our gifts, we couldn’t be givers and experience the higher blessedness that giving brings.
So, perhaps this holiday season, we will summon the courage to be the best receivers of gifts that we can be. Happy holidays!