Receiving

- Adam Lorenz

After a longer than expected drive to my parents house I was ready to zone out. Maybe you’re like me and road travel just takes something out of you for a few hours once you arrive at your destination. I had already thrown my luggage into my old room and was preparing to decompress when my mother comes up to me with a bag.

Since we now live a few states away from one another, our visits have become less frequent so these random bags of tucked away items weren’t unusual to receive. I opened it to find two shirts. As I pulled them out she said excitedly, “I thought of you right when I saw them.”

They weren’t my ‘thing.’

Now I could blame the drive for my response but if I’m honest, I just don’t know how to handle these situations well even when it’s something that I like or had desired. I often just sit there, with little response, and at most say thanks. In this instance, my mother immediately knew I didn’t like them and proceeded to take them back from me.

I felt horrible and I could only imagine the position I put my mother in and the countless others when I didn’t respond well to receiving a gift. Aren’t most of us simply better at giving than receiving?

Think about how you receive a compliment – do you deflect?

Think about how you handle when someone holds the door open for you – can you simply walk through without grabbing for it?

Think about the last date you might have been on – how did you handle it when the other person wanted to pay?

Think about last Christmas – and that crazy blanket Auntie Maggie made specifically for you that doesn’t match anything you own and is frankly kind of scratchy.

There is an art to receiving and we’ve lost it.

Gone are the days of thank you cards and intentional acknowledgements. Gone is chivalry and somehow we’ve grown ok with that. We’ve become content with keeping distance from each other – even in receiving.  We avoid being vulnerable at all costs and dread having things not in our control. We must acknowledge that though we might benefit at the expense of another, there is something in the act of receiving that gives giving its importance.

So when you receive that complement – put to words the value that hearing it meant; when a stranger holds the door – walk through with confidence; when your date pays – bite your lip, remove your hand from the receipt and thank them; and your Auntie Maggie – well… you’ll figure that one out. The lost art of receiving is simple: genuinely acknowledge the existence and value of the person giving and all that they have done.

This season, may we strive to both give and receive well. In simple ways, may this act open us up to the free gifts of love and grace of which we so often deny ourselves.