1 : coming into possession of : acquiring
3 a : permitting to enter : admitting b : welcoming, greeting c : reacting to in a specified manner
It's amazing how sometimes a thought will bounce around in my mind until it crystallizes into the lesson I need to learn. God clearly thinks I need to learn about receiving, because I've had more than one instance to ponder what this looks like in my life and what it means for me to receive graciously and thankfully.
I spent Tuesday of last week thinking about how nice it was to receive: my daughters and I spent the day with a friend and her children. That was a gift in and of itself, but my friend made chili for us for lunch as well. Later that evening, our family joined another family for dinner and my kind friend's husband prepared a fabulous meal for us all. Since my daughters got their own breakfast, Tuesday was a rare treat: a day where I did not prepare a single meal. Even better, I was fully aware of the gift that this was. After a holiday season spent preparing food for my family big and small, I was especially grateful to spend one day receiving food that was good for my body and my soul.
Later in the week, I hurt my back when reaching for a napkin. It wasn't a heavy napkin, I wasn't twisting my body or contorting to reach - it was a perfectly normal movement that happened to send shooting pains through my back and keep my lower back in spasms for days. I've had this type of thing happen before and it scares my daughters: they don't like seeing me hurt. Last night, I was heading to bed early, the pain management having left me exhausted even after a day of little activity. So A & K came upstairs to check on me and decided to tuck me into bed instead of me putting them to bed. They each held my hand and prayed for me, kissed me and pulled the sheets up to my chin. As J left the room, I said, "It was almost worth hurting my back to get that."
Then today at church, we were talking about what it means to really love people. What does that look like? Where does it come from within us? And someone shared that he had recently read something that talked about how the only way we can love others is by loving ourselves first. Only by meeting our own needs can we have the spiritual and emotional reserves to meet the needs of others. His statement immediately took me to my thoughts on receiving and how blessed it was to receive food from my friends and care from my family this week.
I could easily have refused these gifts. I could have insisted on bringing dessert, if not a side dish. I could have pushed through the pain to put my daughters to bed. But you know what? I needed to receive. It was better for me to accept these loving gifts that came my way. I think sometimes we are selfish in a refusal to receive the offerings of others. Because we want to make it about how strong we are, how capable we are, how self-sufficient we are. We want to be the ones to help, not be helped. We not only refuse the gifts our friends and family offer, but the gifts our God offers - of his love, his peace, his comfort.
So I love that the definition of receive is not just to acquire, but to welcome, to greet. I don't intend to turn into someone who takes, takes, takes. But I do want to receive with open arms, open heart and open mind the gifts my loving friends, family and God send my way.