Why Bother Being Receptive?

Why Bother Being Receptive?

It has been said that it is more blessed to give than to receive, but sometimes, it is  difficult to be the recipient of  a blessing. Accepting a gift, a compliment or a favor tends to make us feel uncomfortable, indebted or undeserving. Yet, accepting acts of kindness, good words from others or an unexpected gift with graciousness is to bless the one who gives it.

        Open Hands Open Heart

I am not sure where the tradition began, but I was taught to never return an empty dish to its owner. For example, while growing up, it was not uncommon for a neighbor to leave a bowl of berries or green beans from their garden on our front porch. When returning their container to them, it was customary to fill it back up with something. Homemade banana bread, cookies or even a bag of chocolates fulfilled the unspoken expectation of returning the dish properly to its owner.  To give it back empty would have been uncouth. 

On the other hand, to receive with an open heart and open hands, without wondering what to give back in return, is a new, ongoing, and necessary practice for me. Accepting a gift from the giver with a simple thank you does not seem quite enough. Yet, if I feel indebted to return to the giver something of equal or greater value than what they gave me, then am I receptive to their blessing?

When my mother-in-law passed away last winter, a coworker gave me a hug, a beautiful flowering plant and a sympathy card. What would it have looked like if I had taken out my billfold to pay her for her act of kindness? I believe she would have been offended. To receive is to accept. To accept is to be grateful. Being grateful, I believe, is the blessing we give to those who are giving. 

I often compliment a friend of mine for her courage and stamina. She has endured more physical and mental trials in her life than anyone I know. At first she doubted my words, ignoring them as though they were not true. Being complimented was foreign to her, accepting words of affirmation was even harder. But I did not give up on giving and now, she has become receptive. My heart is blessed when she responds with a grateful and genuine, “thank you.” 

I cannot keep score of the many times I’ve been aided by friends and frankly, I do not want to keep score. Being receptive to someone’s goodness and kindness does not entail keeping a running tab. Being receptive means accepting with a grateful heart and open hands.

Why bother being receptive? It is worth it to practice accepting. Being grateful is the blessing we give to those who are giving. To try and repay a blessing would be no blessing at all.