This week I was told by someone very dear to me that I excelled at something: robbing people. Robbing people of their blessings, to be more specific. How? Because I was always willing to be the “mom” who gave, but never the woman who graciously received.
I would give out of my abundance easily he noted, but he pointed out that I would still give out of my lack. I’m not sure how true that is because I really do struggle with having a lifestyle of contentedness when we struggle to have enough in our home. However, it’s been pointed out to me that as mothers we give and give to our children, to our home, into our husbands. Very often, this giving is out of our lack … and that’s true, because sometimes I give patience when I feel like I don’t have any left – I give hugs and love when I feel unlovable – I give understanding when I really don’t understand how someone could do or say what they did – I give encouragement when I am discouraged – and I try my best to bring joy even on the days when I have none.
Does this make me selfless? Humble? Super-Christian? After much reflection, I have to say it’s similar to those righteous works compared to filthy rags. I give those things because I love my family. I give them because God has called me to. It’s simple obedience. I need to cultivate an attitude of joy and service, I think, a bit more than I have. However, just as God has called me to pour out, so has He called all of His children to pour out of their lives and into the lives of others. This means, in an ideal world, that everyone is pouring out … and everyone is receiving something that has been poured out by someone else!
God blesses us because He loves us. He gives out His magnificent abundance and funnels it into our meager existence. He doesn’t love on us because we’re lovable. He doesn’t bless us because we are worthy. He does it because it is in His nature to do so; the character of God demands selfless action. We, too, need to love this way.
But people like me make it difficult. When other brothers and sisters in Christ try to walk in obedience and bless my life, I stumble around a reason they shouldn’t. Receiving gifts from others, especially those closest to me, is very difficult for me. This should not be so. So why is it?
After more reflection, I think it’s because I don’t like how it makes me feel. Selfish reasoning, huh? I do feel loved and kind of honored when someone offers encouragement or a compliment. But any tangible gift makes me feel inadequate and somewhat beholden. I hate to think of what it might be costing someone to give to me. It makes me nervous to think of what I might have to reciprocate to seem grateful. But mostly, it makes me feel unworthy because I know how hard it is for me to give in a tangible way and it challenges me.
I want to examine my heart carefully. I want to search my innermost soul. And somewhere on my scavenger hunt, I hope to find a gracious spirit that not only desires to lavishly bless others, but one that can with sincerity and fullness of joy receive the lavish blessings of God – even when they are delivered through the hands of men and women. I challenge you to think about it: do you give graciously? Do you receive graciously? Do you rob others of the blessing of giving to you? How can you give more? And how can you receive more?