When Christmas comes around, hundreds of blog posts talking about giving surface. Christmas has almost become synonymous to gifts, giving, and generosity. I know that some of you already are generous and/or are tired of reading about the same thing again and again. That’s part of the reason why I’m proposing something new this year.
Instead of just focusing on the gift of giving, let’s talk about the gift of receiving.
Now, I’m not saying that you should stop giving gifts (if you haven’t already finished that since this post came a little late). All I’m saying is that the act of receiving something from someone can be, in itself, a selfless act, too. Inasmuch as we have to learn how to give, we also have to learn how to receive.
Have you ever experienced receiving a gift from someone and feeling very shy because you didn’t have anything to give in return? Have you experienced having to accept help from someone and feeling a little guilty about taking their time? Or are you one of the people who want to melt to the floor or apparate whenever someone gives you something-anything?
Well, I’m one of those extreme cases. And most of the people who know me know that about me. That’s what made November 21, 2015 even more memorable. Here’s what happened.
A bunch of my big sisters in our discipleship group celebrated their birthdays in November. I came to the party with nothing. I was new, extremely busy, and just plain unready to go. I wasn’t even planning to come at all because I knew I didn’t have time to buy gifts. But, God had other plans. It may not have been my birthday, but He had a pile of gifts for me.
I learned three important things about receiving that night. Let me tell you about them.
The day was great. The meal was delicious. The company was exceptional. I was just getting the movie started when Ate Renee (who owned the house) and our Mom (our discipler, Mother D) called me to the second floor and to the guest room. On the bed were piles of clothes that they asked us to sift through and pick what we wanted to take home.
It didn’t take long for my Fight or Flight instinct to kick in. I wanted out of there. I considered it a blessing that most of the clothes were too small for me. After all, I was the biggest and tallest of the bunch. I kept politely refusing to try anything on until Ate Mich put up a beautiful black blazer.
Just a few days ago, I saw a jacket just like that from a really popular store in the mall. I wanted it and my aunt urged me to buy it, saying that I needed more proper clothes for my speaking gigs. I shook my head and left with a heavy heart. I was (still am) trying to save up so I could publish my book. But I couldn’t get the image of that jacket out of my head.
And there it was. All I had to do was put it on, thank the giver, and it’s mine. Instead, I just stood there with a half smile. It took all of them to convince me to try it on. It wasn’t what they said. It was who they were and what they were doing that got me on board.
Lesson 1: Receiving keeps your pride in check.
I looked around the room and everyone was trying stuff on. Now, these ladies are some of the most successful women I know. They had successful careers, academic accomplishments, and titles that I could only dream of, but they didn’t think receiving was something shameful. They were playing a grown-up version of dress up. It was not a big deal.
What was I “ashamed” of? Could I really call that shame?
It was pride that kept me from taking things that people give. I feel like if I don’t give something (of equal or greater value), I would be indebted to them. And if my successful Ates don’t have this kind of attitude, I have to change.
So, I took that jacket and tried it on.
It fit like a glove.
I shook that guilt/shame/pride cocktail out of my system and said jokingly,
“May pangalan ko ata ito, Ate. (I think this has my name on it)”
Lesson 2: Receiving makes people, the giver, the witnesses, and the receiver, happy.
Squeals of delight filled the room and Ate Renee went crazy, dashing back and forth, to fill my arms with all the coat jackets, blazers, skirts, and slacks that she had to spare.
Every piece of clothing I tried on was met with the same enthusiastic reaction. I didn’t need to buy corporate clothes (as long as I keep my figure steady) for the next few years.
In the past, whenever I refused to receive something, I would see disappointment, anger, (sometimes, even) pain on the givers’ faces. This time, there was none of that.
Giving made her happy.
By receiving, I made her happy.
I thought back on the people I robbed of that experience and felt bad. I wish I could go back and just be a gracious receiver instead of the prideful snob I was.
That strengthened my resolve to start letting love me this way.
Lesson 3: Receiving inspires you to give when you have the chance.
I wish I could pay Ate Renee back for all the beautiful clothes that she gave me and my sisters. I’m planning to do something, but it won’t have to be of greater or equal value as I was determined to do in the past. (I don’t think I have the resources to do that anyway) But this was not about that.
There are other ways to thank her and that following Saturday, I managed to pay it forward. My twin sister and I wore two of the jackets that she gave me.
I wore that first jacket I tried on during Team Lyqa’s Final Coaching. It was a tangible reminder to keep doing what I was doing-teaching people and helping them pass the Civil Service Exam.
It was the perfect boost to own what I was doing and train my energy into it.
The next year will be extra challenging. I made the decision to focus on teaching Civil Service Examinees. I will have to be more frugal, but on the wardrobe aspect, I’m all set.
All because I gave the gift of receiving.
And that’s my two cents on that.
What about you? Are you more of a giver or a receiver? Which aspect do you need to improve?