Love others as well as you love yourself. Matthew 22:39 (MSG)
Giving and Receiving – The Receive Series – Part 1
We are a culture that’s good at taking. We take time, money, things that we need… we take and take and take. Most often, we take things by paying for them, or organizing them, or waiting in line, taking what's rightfully ours. Sometimes, people take things by force. Some feel entitled, and take without care or thought of what that means for someone else. (More on that later.)
The thing we suck at? Receiving.
We suck at accepting help, unexpected gifts, kindness… for want of a better word, charity. We’d like to make it on our own, thank you very much! Unless we feel entitled to what you have, and in that case, ‘give me all the things.’
We are a complicated species.
Even in spirituality, it’s so easy to find ourselves working and striving and hoping to gain the Divine’s approval and acceptance. Live worthy of the call, prove our worth and value… you know. Make sure we own our spot on “the team.” (FYI, there is no team… there’s just us. But that’s another series…)
We take and we earn and we strive and we prove. But seldom do we receive.
Seldom do we live in the movement of give and receive.
When asked what the most important command in all the scripture was, Jesus replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” (Matt 22:27-40 MSG.)
We pride ourselves on how much we love others, especially when it makes us look good and holy. But loving ourselves? Receiving the gift of love and belonging for ourselves? That’s a little more complicated.
To love yourself is different to being narcissistic and egotistical. Completely different thing. And it’s completely necessary that we learn to love ourselves thoroughly and completely. I think we’ve taken scriptures like “It is better to give than to receive…” (Acts 20:35) and twisted them into some self-denying creed, forgetting that we are also called to give to ourselves: to our health and vitality, spiritually, physically and mentally.
Giving and receiving is of one piece. It’s not either or. To do one well, you must learn to do the other.
In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” (go read it. now.), Brené Brown said:
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we're never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”
You can’t give what you're unwilling to receive.
We’re good at taking what we want and need. Sometimes too good. My challenge to you this week is to receive. Drop your pride, open your heart and arms, and welcome the gifts that are yours.
Written by Liz Milani