When was the last time you received an extravagant gift? What was your response receiving such a gift? Excitement or apprehension?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes receiving gifts makes me feel self-conscious and awkward. If I’m honest with myself, I feel this way because I don’t believe I deserve it. And, honestly, I probably don’t. I haven’t earned it.
With these negative feelings, I have responded with embarrassment. Or, occasionally, I have rejected the present altogether.
“No, no…I really can’t accept this….”
Have you ever rejected a gift? Has anyone ever rejected a gift from you? How does that make you feel? Rejected!
Knowing that I am rejecting both gift and Giver makes me feel awful! But is the awful that I feel greater than my thoughts of undeservedness?
Why do we give gifts?
We give because we love.
According to Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages, giving is a language that expresses our affection for others. The offering speaks to the recipient, saying, “I want you to know how much I love you!” The intangible emotion becomes a tangible gift.
I believe that loving others is in our nature, woven into our DNA as creatures made in the image of God. We crave it, seek it, and sacrifice for it. Without love we become sick…shriveled fragments of our full potential. Love and connection are basic human needs…as vital to our spirits as air and water are to our bodies.
If I do not need to earn air, why do I think I need to earn love?
Scripture is my basis for truth. I cannot find scripture that suggests that love is something to be earned. What I did find was this: “We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19.
The gift of parenthood is the best example of unearned love that I can relate to. My babies did not have to do a single thing for me to love them. The fact that they existed and they were mine was enough for me to fall head over heals in love with them. Those big eyes looked at me in such wonder…their smiles captivated me in return.
As children of God, we are the cute, chubby wobblers He designed. We begin life in awe of Him and the world He put us in. And then we fall down. Over and over we fall. We get hurt and we blame. We lose trust in God’s love and we choose to go solo.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, God gave His people laws to follow for the purpose of showing them the impossibility of living in relationship via rules. Rather than realizing the error of isolation, people clung to those regulations with tight fists. Even creating their own additional laws. Stubborn!
There are two ages in childhood development that come to mind when I think of the stubbornness mentality of, “I can do it myself!” Toddlerhood and teens. Wisdom smiles, knowing better than the child. But what if we never grow wise and out of that mindset? What if our independence rewards us in some sick, sad way…say monetarily…replacing kinship with wealth?
Could it be that our developing minds have been misguided into thinking that we can buy love? Yes. Oh yes. We know it’s true. And how hard is it to unlearn something that has found root in our heart!
But gift giving is about relationship. There must be two for an exchange to occur. And the giving and receiving of gifts is meant to be a joyful thing!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16
Might I paraphrase this verse and add emphasis? “For God soooooo loved the world that he gave the only son he had….”
How am I responding to the great gift of Jesus? Am I accepting the forgiveness and grace God offers, or am I putting up a stop hand saying, “I’m good, no thanks.” Am I good? Just how tight am I with God?
The way I react to the gifts of others reflects, the health of my relationship with God. And reversely, accepting my true position in relationship with God helps right my affiliation with all else. Isn’t that amazing!
You and I are currently in a unique time in history. The entire globe is finding a commonality in vulnerability. As a virus runs through countries, cities and neighborhoods, isolation has become a mandate. Yet on this trajectory, I suspect, there will be a greater opportunity to give. A greater time to receive as well. How will we respond?
Can I encourage you?
You are not alone. You are loved. Asking for help is a sign of health, as no one can thrive separated. You have permission to receive gifts offered without shame and with joy. As was the Giver intended to bring you joy…not guilt…not shame.
If you do not know the love of God the Father. If you have not received Jesus as a gift to freedom, what is stopping you? Are you afraid of being unworthy? Are you stuck between feeling awful and feeling like you don’t deserve the gift? Friend, there is joy in the freedom! Put an end to shame and celebrate! Receive the gift!