I talk all the time about how much better it is to give than to receive. In fact, because that is how I speak my love language, I find giving easy. Whether it’s time, a shoulder, or gifts, I love to give.
But I stink at receiving.
Through the help of counseling a few years ago, I’ve gotten better. I can receive words of love and compliments without deflecting at least 85% of the time, which is a huge improvement over the previous 5%. But in addition to seeing how badly I have been at receiving, I have also learned that I’m not alone.
Over half the people I try to give to deflect or refuse my gifts.
In 2013, I had the honor of photographing clients from our local pregnancy center for a 2014 calendar. Recipients were receiving a totally, completely, no-strings-attached free photo shoot of their child. They’d receive a disc of photos that they were free to print however they wanted. No money would pass between us. It was completely a gift. With the deadline looming, and with all the clients our center has, I ended up with only 10 months – 10 clients who were open to receiving. Sadly, I was turned down more often than a session was accepted.
It was even harder to complete this task again this year, and by “harder,” I mean it didn’t happen at all as we had planned. Instead, we only had one client open and willing to accept this gift. Our whole plan had to change.
One client-turned-friend summed it up for me when she arrived for her session. “My husband thinks you’re going to charge me. He thinks that there is no way this is a real gift.”
That’s how far we’ve come — we don’t recognize love and gifts when they stare us in the face. We mistrust the intentions of others. We don’t believe someone really just wants to love us.
I know that’s how I’ve felt for way too long. They only say I’m talented because they want something from me. They only did me that favor because they want me to do something even bigger for them.
I’m not worth their love.
Several close friends have pushed their love on me anyway, and I’ve slowly learned to receive. It became easier to receive when a friend reminded me that when I refuse these gifts of time, love, praise, and material items, I am not allowing others to love me in their own love language. I am refusing them the opportunity to give, to speak their affection in their own way.
I thought about how much it can hurt my feelings to give a gift, only to have it handed right back. “I don’t want it.” Would you really say that to someone on Christmas morning? As you sit with your loved ones and they hand you a gift, you just hand it back and refuse it? It’s very likely you wouldn’t. But we do the same thing every time we turn down someone’s offer to love on us, to give us words of kindness. Every time you add a “but” onto your “thank you,” you are deflecting. And when you push a gift back with, “No, no, I couldn’t,” you are refusing the real gift of love.
Let yourselves be loved. Receive with an open heart. Accept love at face value. I know not every intention is genuine, but you can accept it that way anyway.
If it’s better to give than to receive but no one is open to receiving, what’s really happening here?
Are you good at receiving, or is this something you can begin to work on right this very second?