It is Friday. Black Friday. We have officially made it through Thanksgiving to the start of the Christmas season. Though I’m not a fan of Black Friday (I tend to think it brings out the worst in us), I am a fan of gift giving. It is, after all, what the holiday is all about. This week, I’ve encouraged you to give – to give thanks, to give time and resources, to give grace and forgiveness, to give yourself a new tradition.
Today, I encourage you to receive.
A woman I know shared with me last night one of the struggles of her Thanksgiving celebration. She had invited to her home a person she loved dearly. She knew this friend was facing some really difficult situations in her personal life— situations she hadn’t shared with anyone else, and my friend felt so strongly that she needed to bless her. She tried to give food; her friend declined. She tried to give homemade things; her friend declined. She tried to give money to help with gas; her friend declined. My friend was disappointed. She had felt compelled to give, to put in her friend’s hands something tangible as a reminder that she isn’t alone and she doesn’t need to face her battle alone, but each attempt was met with a quiet and firm refusal.
It can be difficult – humbling – to receive a gift. Oh, but do! For years, I thought the “humble” thing to do when offered a gift was to say, “Oh, thank you, but you should give that to someone who really needs it.” Or, “I really appreciate that, but I’m okay.” Years ago, however, my mother set me straight. It’s not humble to refuse a gift, she said, it’s selfish.
When you give a gift, she told me, there is something happening in your spirit. You are hearing God whisper to you that there’s some small way you can bless another person by filling a need, or by expressing your love, or by simply making them smile. It becomes a sort of mission field that God gives you for a time – to give, to bless another. In refusing such a gift, you rob the giver. You prevent her from experiencing the joy of giving. You prevent her from learning to live generously. And perhaps most detrimentally, you are expressing (whether intentionally or not) that you don’t need her.
So yes, friends – let’s be givers in every sense of the word. Let’s live generously. Let’s also receive generously. Let’s allow those who love us to express their love without reprimand or refusal. Whether it’s money or a cup of coffee or leftover turkey or a knick-knack from a thrift store, let’s accept the gift we’re really being offered – love.
That is, after all, what the holidays are about.
Thanks for sticking with me this week, folks. May the remainder of your Thanksgiving weekend be filled with love and rest and family.