I have always been- and will always be a giver, but I am still learning how to receive with grace. The culture of my family of origin required that I become fiercely independent; having needs was deemed shameful, selfish, and a mark of incompetence. However, the trials and life changes I endured in recent years put me in a place where I had to ask for- and accept more help than ever before.
Through numerous kindnesses of friend and stranger alike, I came to understand that giving and receiving are part of a cycle, that one can only give so much without accepting in return. But more importantly, I discovered that receiving a gift with grace–with a genuine gratitude unsullied by guilt, obligation, feelings of unworthiness or focus on whether one can repay–is a gift in itself.
During my times of need, some people have been very generous to me. This includes friends who gave me furniture they could have sold at a decent price; an anonymous gifter who left a basket at my door, bearing a sweet note, a dozen free-range eggs and the pint of pricey raspberries my daughter needed for a cake she wanted to bake; the member of the US Navy Band who stopped to change my punctured tire in a shopping center one chilly night; and the stranger I met through a community message board, who gave me a great deal on a used replacement tire–then borrowed his neighbor’s tools so he could balance and mount it for me at no additional cost, on Thanksgiving Day.
Receiving these gifts and many more that I could not repay, I considered how positive and worthwhile I feel when I am able to help another. I realized that by being completely receptive and appreciative–without taint of guilt, shame, or the expectation that I must give back equally–I can allow others to have that same feeling. By developing my ability to receive with grace, I increase the value of the gift for both the giver and myself.