I read From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover. This book put a spotlight on our natural desires to have people think of us as “good”. And, it made me uncomfortable to see how easily this desire could turn into trying to earn God’s acceptance, instead of freely accepting everything He offers us through Jesus Christ.
But, the most valuable insight and understanding I came away with was realizing that I continue to struggle with receiving in general. Whether it’s an unexpected gift, a compliment, or even help with chores.
This month, it seemed like praying about grace and wanting to be conscious of it in my life, helped me understand that it takes grace to receive.
My husband has always been an extremely generous man, and when we first met, his habit of freely giving unnerved me. If something grabbed my attention, he would immediately purchase it for me. It took a while for me to get comfortable with his liberality, and even longer for me to convince him that I didn’t want everything I admired.
He has always had the philosophy of, “Give while I can.” He never waited for a special occasion – he simply gave whenever he thought about someone or saw a gift that reminded him of them.
I’d like to say that I’ve learned to receive after almost thirty years of marriage, but that would be a lie.
The book made me take time to reflect on my life and to try to grasp why it has been so hard for me to receive.
It’s never been easy for me to simply thank others for their compliments. Even when it was about my looks, my attire, my decor, or home cooked meals. Each time, I always explained their kind words away.
I prayed about it, seeking to understand why I disregarded their compliments, believing it was no big deal, that any efforts I made shouldn’t get recognized? I wanted to know why I found it difficult to accept their gifts and acts of kindness.
As I continued to seek God, I thought about my reaction when I get offers of help. It made me cringe. This has always been one of the hardest things for me to do! For a long while, I accomplished most tasks without help. However, in the last few years, I realized that I can’t do as much and the limits caused frustration.
So, when I was forced to ask for help, I felt guilty and ashamed that I can’t get things done like before.
But, God is showing me that receiving is a form of grace.
It’s a way to accept, with gratitude, the blessings God bestows on me.
Yes, I believe, and have no problem accepting, that there’s no way to earn salvation. I thank God for loving us enough to give it freely (John 3:16).
So why can’t I receive other things in my life as easily or as confidently? Is there a way for me to receive the good things God uses other people to bring into my life? Will I ever stop struggling against it and accept it?
Now that I realize why I have this problem, I feel broken inside. I finally understand that the difficulties I experience with receiving is because I don’t feel worthy.
I don’t believe that I deserve these good things in my life. Why? Because of my physical condition and limitations. Something inside of me causes me to believe I do not deserve anything special or extra or not requested in my life.
I feel sad just thinking about the occasions I have banished joy from my life. It happens every time I fail to receive from others. I see that my joy gets destroyed, but so does the giver’s joy.
Right now, I’m praying for God to renew my mind, for Him to teach me a new way of receiving, for Him to open my heart so that I can be encouraged by the kindness of others.
I have to remember that every time someone takes a moment to help me with a chore, or makes an effort to compliment me, or goes out of their way to shop for a gift – their actions and words are telling me that I M-A-T-T-E-R to them, that they are aware of my presence in their lives, and that I make a difference to them, even when I don’t think so.
I thank God for that book about goodness. I’m glad it didn’t reveal that I have a tendency towards “works”. But, I’m grateful that it has helped me discover a part of my life that was desperate for more of God’s grace.
I’m not used to it. It’s uncomfortable. But, slowly, I’m learning to receive.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your gentle correction when we fail to see ourselves as You’ve created us. Give us the ability to love ourselves so that we can genuinely love others. Please continue to shower us with Your love and mercy, but most of all, with Your grace.