The Lost Art of Giving and Receiving
Have you noticed Christmas decorations are already seen on store shelves even though we haven’t yet reached Haloween? A friend and I were talking about this and he said, “I don’t like to get gifts. I’m a giver, not a receiver.” I just let him talk but my mind went on its own tangent as it does sometimes when someone throws out such a thought. Giving and receiving is becoming a lost art. Let’s take a look at it.
Giving and receiving
It sounds great, doesn’t it? Giving seems so noble, so generous, so wonderful. We have sayings, Biblical quotations, even, such as “It is better to give than receive,” and “God loves a cheerful giver.” We are encouraged to give— time, money, love, assistance— whatever is needed. Further, we give awards for givers who do big deeds and give big gifts. Giving sometimes gives us a feeling of euphoria, a “high” allowing us to feel good about ourselves and good about what we have done. I think of giving as the real “soul food” because there is such a resultant inner blessing. I personally think that giving is a private matter and I cringe when I hear someone crowing about his/her generosity and how much they have given. But that’s my own opinion.
But there is also something special about receiving. If there were no receivers there could be no givers, could there? A gift received graciously adds exponentially to the joy of the giver. Think about it. You see something for a friend that you know he or she could use and enjoy and you buy it. It may be a tiny thing that doesn’t cost much but you know how they like this particular kind of item.
The next time you see them you present them with the gift and wait for their reaction. If you see a smile spread over their face, their eyes dance with appreciation and their lips say, “Ohhhh, thank you soooo much. How did you ever find this? How lovely that you thought of me,” you feel wonderful. You are so glad you gave it. It makes your day! On the other hand, if you present it and they ignore it or look at you and say something like, “What is this? Why did you get me this? Can I take it and exchange it for something else,” your spirits may fall and you may wonder why you bothered. You didn’t give it to receive accolades and gratitude but a little appreciation would make you want to do it again, wouldn’t it?
How do you receive?
How do you receive? Do you ask for the receipt so you can exchange it? Perhaps you set it aside like it’s a bother to have to carry it home. Or maybe you let the giver know it isn’t exactly what you wanted or that it isn’t expensive enough or isn’t the right color. Or do you smile, and oooh and ahhh, give them a hug, and later let them see it being used or prominently displayed? What a difference gracious receiving makes.
I remember going Christmas shopping with my mother when I was about seven years old. She let me shop freely (it was safe back then)> I bought her a “beautiful brooch” which sparkled and glittered. After Christmas, she and my dad were going out and she pinned the brooch on her dress. I was elated and still remember how I felt. I thought she looked so beautiful. After her death many years later, when I was sorting her things, I found the brooch in her jewelry box. She had kept it all those years since that Christmas. I was shocked at how absolutely gaudy the brooch was—really awful. But she wore it and kept it all those years. I know she recognized that it was given with great love. She was a wonderful receiver.
As you begin to think about the holiday season and Christmas, think about how you can give the greatest joy to the givers of the gifts you receive. Receive with genuine enthusiasm, appreciation, and grace. I think God loves a cheerful receiver, too.