Motherhood starts with giving. You give birth and an explosion of giving, in a myriad of ways over a myriad of days, is the natural follow up. We give hugs and we give kisses. We give our time. We give our wisdom. We give to enrich our child in every way possible.
Even without being a mother, most of us know the almost automatic desire of wanting to give to small children.
I take CJ out and about and the next thing I know she’s covered in stickers from every store we visited and has a sucker in hand from the teller at the bank. I understand. We delight in giving, in eliciting that precious smile, in having that little interaction.
What hit me the other day however, was not how much I or others give, but the way in which Corrie receives. Not once has she said “no no, I couldn’t possibly.”
She’s never held up her hands and said “you’ve done too much already.”
And even more she has never ever once said “well let me make it up to you.”
She’s never offered me a back rub in exchange. She’s never changed my sheets or washed my hair or made me dinner. She’s never brought stickers to the kind cashier at Target.
While of course I want her to learn to give, at this point she is teaching all of us something that we seem to have forgotten:
She knows how to receive.
Give and Take
Somewhere along the line we start treating all of our relationships as transactional. You do something for me, I do something for you.
We don’t want to feel like we owe anyone anything.
We definitely feel like we must owe God something.
While pride or humility may equally cause us to give, they can both equally affect how we receive. Of course there may be people who pridefully just expect things of people, but more often, it is humility that will lead us to accept a gift.
It is humility that allows us to accept help.
We are often too caught up in our instagram/facebook world of perfect lives. We don’t want to impose on anyone and we certainly don’t want to seem like we don’t have it all together. As if our whole lives are lived out in HD with sunflare overlays.
Guess what? We like filters for a reason- our every day lives are not that shiny. We do NEED help. We can accept gifts.
Gifts of time. Gifts of service. Gifts of something just to enjoy.
I have been working on this for years now. When someone offers to help me, I trust that they are sincerely offering. If they offer to pay for my meal, I trust that they really do want to. If they want to give me something, be it material or an act of service, I trust that they enjoy the giving, and I do not want to deny them that.
All of this is good and well but ultimately flows from how I receive the ultimate gift- the gift of Jesus, the gift of His life and spirit, the gift of life with Him. God is a good, gift giving God. Can I rest in the fact that His justification for me is freely given?
Do I really accept that I do not owe Him anything?
When I humbly admit that my salvation has to be a gift, that there is nothing I can do for God, that I am incapable of making myself holy, I am ready to receive from Him. I am also ready to receive from others. The two are completely intertwined.
We may believe our salvation is a gift and that we absolutely needed God’s help to be restored to Him, yet do we realize that His help continues to come throughout our whole lives, often through other people?
We say we believe that we are the body of Christ, but I’m pretty sure my back has never declined my hand scratching it when it had an itch. My mind has never told my eyes “really, I’ll be fine”. We often read those “body of Christ” passages only from the vantage point of how we might have something to offer.
Maybe we also have something to receive.
Maybe that person offering to buy your lunch is being His hands right now. Maybe that person offering to watch your kids for the afternoon is being His eyes. Maybe that person offering to bring you dinner is His feet.
Even when the gift comes from someone who is not His own, His touch is still present. He is not limited in any way.
One of my absolute favorite verses from the Bible says “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…(James 1:17).” EVERY GOOD thing comes from Him! Am I turning those gifts down because I don’t recognize the Giver?
Stop and ask yourself, how has God offered me a gift recently? The next time He sends one, will you, like a child, freely take it?