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Blessed to Receive

It’s December, and we are all in high gift-giving mode. There is an energy behind the giving of gifts: a way of feeling that is empowering and personally satisfying.

We have all spent our lives hearing that ‘It is better to give than to receive’.  Even the Bible says: It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35, fyi.)  Receiving seems like Giving’s less attractive little brother.


How can you be a giver without a receiver? (Spoiler alert: you can’t.)

Have you ever given a gift: a present or a compliment, and had the person you are giving to “pooh-pooh” or “you-shouldn’t-have” at you? It steals some of the joy out of the giving, doesn’t it? I know it does for me.

So apparently there ARE, in fact, some redeeming qualities in receiving.  Which anyone who has received a nice gift can attest to, yes?

Receiving seems like Giving’s less attractive little brother.

An EXPECTED gift, for example, may not be so difficult to accept. But those UNexpected gifts: of help, or a compliment, or the present that seems way above and beyond? Those make us feel awkward.

That’s when our uncomfortable “we don’t actually deserve this” alarm starts going off with all its flashy lights and buzzers.

Because not only do we see giving as ‘better’ and ‘more blessed’, we see it as a position with more power.

In our culture, receiving can feel like a ‘lower’ or ‘lesser’ position.  We feel fine with the giving: of gifts, of help, of positive words. But being on the receiving end of those same things…well, as Mr. Perfect would  say: “That’s totally different”.

And in case you were wondering, there is a reason we feel this way. It’s because to be a gracious receiver you DO have to adopt a position of humility. And we (and by we, I mean me) as a general rule, are proud.

And pride is the trickiest of all those 7 deadlies. It goes around with aliases like self-sufficiency and independence. And sneaks around looking like perfectionism.

So receiving goes against the grain of our self-sufficient, independent & sometimes perfectionistic natures. I would love to tell you I am an incredibly humble person & that I have that all figured out and here are three quick tips to increasing your humility.

Receiving goes against the grain of our self-sufficient natures.

Sorry to disappoint. Not in a position to be a great example. Although I am trying to practice just saying Thank You when I get a compliment. Instead of explaining that ‘my hair doesn’t normally look like this’ or ‘these pants are really like 10 years old’ or whatever other nonsense that I feel compelled to add when someone says something nice to me.

Honestly, gift giving is something I am really good at. Seriously. (I dont’ toot my own horn too often, but this is my thing.) So this time of year is like my personal Olympics…I get to stick the landing with really cool gifts for all my people.

And I love, love, LOVE watching people open those gifts. In fact, I really try to make everyone else open their gifts first. Because that is where I am the haphap-happiest.

But a confession: opening my own gifts, when everyone is watching me, makes me a little squirmy. Don’t misunderstand, I like getting presents. I am totally shameless about getting excited when I get something really neat. 

But…still with the squirmy. Like I’m not totally sure that I really deserve all this goodness. Which is really a bunch of hogwash, because of COURSE I do. These lovely people, MY lovely people, all think so! And so I should put my big girl pants on, graciously say Thank you and receive.

And in case you were wondering, this also applies to you as well.

YOU deserve all the goodness, too! Yes, YOU. Let’s be Gracious Receivers together.

So while it may be MORE blessed to give, there is also blessing in the receiving.   


All growing up, my dad (who has taught Sunday school almost his entire adult life) has talked about how important it is to be a good receiver. I have heard this A LOT.  Many. Many. Times. So it might be about time to take it to heart, dontcha think?

His explanation goes something like this:

‘If there is a blessing to be gained in the giving, when we receive poorly (or not at all), then we are, in essence, robbing someone of a blessing! So while it may be MORE blessed to give, there is also blessing in the receiving. So be a gracious receiver–and you will both receive a blessing.’

He and Maya Angelou must be reading the same material, because she said:


 “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”


Wise folks, that Maya and my dad.

 “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

 -Maya Angelou

So while this is the Season of Giving, let’s try out Gracious Receiving as well.  In a few days you will get a great chance to practice-so don’t be afraid to get in front of the bathroom mirror and rehearse in advance.


No disclaimers. No pooh-pooh-ing.

Just Gracious Receiving.  And then there will be double the blessings all around.

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