Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tis the Season to Receive

It's Christmas time. That means there's a lot of running about shopping and trying to find the perfect gifts to give our family and friends. It's all part of the holiday season.

There is an adage that says "It is more blessed to give than receive". I think most of us believe this is true. But if we are giving, doesn't that mean someone is receiving? Where is the adage for that?

We've probably all had an experience where we've given a gift, the recipient opened it, but did not receive it. Maybe it wasn't what they were expecting, or there were more presents to open and  yours was tossed aside in the eagerness to get more. Whatever the reason, it is very disheartening to have gone to the effort of selecting a gift only to have it mean nothing to the recipient.

That doesn't seem right. If it is truly important to give, and I believe it is, isn't it just as important to receive? Somebody has to get the gifts that are being given.

I'm going to pick on my husband. He's the one who taught me the importance of receiving because he's so bad at it. I never knew getting a gift could be such an ordeal until I met him. For many years I worried about what to get him for Christmas, birthday, Father's Day, Anniversary, and other special occasions. For every celebration I would choose what I thought he would like and anticipate his happiness and gratitude.

Still waiting. He's returned everything, and I do mean everything, I've ever gotten him.

A few years ago I finally gave up. I told him he wasn't getting anything for Christmas. I was tired of having to return all the gifts I'd bought. I thought he would object. He didn't. I'd finally figured out what he wanted. Nothing.

Yes, this sounds colder than a January morning with wind chill but it works for him. My feelings aren't hurt and he's happy money hasn't been wasted.

But it doesn't seem right. And so I've thought a lot lately about the importance of receiving.

About twenty years ago my Grandma Minnie paid me a compliment of some sort and I tried to act like whatever it was I'd said or done, was nothing.

"Just be gracious and accept my words," she said.

Wow. For such a simple statement it had profound meaning for me. I'd always thought I needed to apologize  or brush off compliments as if they were nothing. Wasn't that what was meant by humility? I've learned they aren't 'nothing' to the person saying it. It's offensive to think they don't mean it.

So, I've tried to be more gracious - and receive compliments. Or advice. Or suggestions, or counsel, or reprimands or other comments and ideas. I don't think I've hurt any feelings by doing so and I hope I have been sincere in my appreciation.

Why is it so difficult to receive? Why do we feel guilty about 'getting'? What are we missing out on by not graciously accepting gifts or whatever we are given? It seems we are comfortable if we have to work or pay for things but most of us are not comfortable just taking things. It's as if doing so puts us at beggar status.

But aren't we all beggars? That's what King Benjamin taught. All we have comes from God and we can't obtain His choicest gifts unless we learn to 'receive'. He asks us to receive His words, His covenants, His laws, His prophets, His counsel, His gospel, His love. And if we accept, we can receive even more. His plan of happiness requires receiving. That should allay any concerns we have about receiving not being as noble as giving. After all, He's waiting to receive us.

What about receiving love? Here's another adage: Love in your heart wasn't put there to stay, Love isn't Love 'til you give it away. We all desire love in our lives but I don't think love reaches its potential unless its received. Once again, it is just as blessed, and beneficial, to receive as it is to give. And hugs? They don't work without one giving and one receiving and both of them squeezing. And the list goes on.

This Christmas I hope you're blessed to give and receive.

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