I spent many years working in healthcare, professionally helping other people. Once, when I was sick, I had a taste of what it was like to be on the other side of the bedrails. It was difficult for me to accept the care of others. I felt I should be the one doing the caring, not the one receiving care.
Healing for me - physical and emotional - came when I learned to receive care graciously. The example of Jesus was so helpful to me during this time. I had always thought of Jesus as doing something - healing, teaching, preaching. Now I began to notice the times he quietly and graciously received.
Many people have trouble receiving. Yet since God is Love, there must be a way to learn to graciously receive God's love and the love of others.
Jesus was at times a dinner guest as well as a host. He knew how to receive a compliment or a gift graciously and to value the kindness of the giver. There's a story about how Mary, a sister of Lazarus, gave Jesus an expensive gift. Judas complained about his accepting it. "Then said Jesus, Let her alone" (John 12:7). Jesus went on to show that he understood and valued the true spirit in which the gift was given.
I was surprised to see that Jesus was on the receiving end of physical care. His head was anointed, his feet were washed. He did not shy away from this.
The Bible gives the names of some of the women who helped him, saying that they "ministered unto him of their substance" (see Luke 8:3). Someone must have made him the seamless robe that he wore on the most important night of his life. I feel sure they put love into every thread. Jesus, by example, teaches us to accept love in the spirit in which it is given.
It's a wonderful thing to be a generous giver - to give naturally and easily of our time, talent, and treasure.
I've learned that receiving is also a very important thing to do. If God is the source of our love, then it doesn't matter whether we are receiving love or giving love. Either way, we are serving God, who is Love.
Being a gracious receiver is one way we can express gratitude. "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy asks us, "Are we really grateful for the good already received?" and goes on with the reminder, "Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks" (pg. 3). Sometimes expressing gratitude means letting someone else have the joy of being the giver.
Today when people give me a gift or a compliment, I don't get embarrassed. I just say thank you, and mean it. I am no longer embarrassed to ask for help or even to receive physical care if I need it.
I am learning new aspects of what it means to be a Christian, of what it means to give and to receive.
So go ahead. Sit on the sofa at parties, enjoy interacting with the guests, and do the dishes later. Receiving good will not make you a bad Christian, a bad person, or a bad parent.
Love is a gift from God. Open your heart to receive it, and be blessed.
This I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in
all things, may abound
to every good work.
II Corinthians 9:6-8