Learning to Receive

With the holidays wrapping up, I’ve been thinking about how we are bombarded with shopping deals and images of things we begin to believe we need. Yet, there are reminders around this season as we show love to others and remember why we even celebrate, giving without expecting to receive. That’s what was modeled for us when Jesus was born — a gift given to us, no strings attached. 

Some of us give, give, give all year long, our time, our money, our talents, but sometimes the strangest thing happens. We refuse kindnesses that are shown to us. Yes, we hear it’s better to give than receive, but we should allow others to show love to us. And that can be hard.

You know that awkward moment after having dinner with a friend when you offer to pay and the person argues with you about it? I have been that person…or I deflected a compliment someone gave me until it lost its star power (and probably left the compliment-giver frustrated).

Why do we refuse? Why do we argue rather than choosing to let someone do something thoughtful for us? I’m sure there are lots of reasons, and I know for me, it has to do with the issue of worthiness. Sometimes I struggle to appreciate aspects of myself (usually during stressful times when I’m so frazzled I find a measuring cup left in a bag of frozen berries or forget why I walked into a room when I went in there to look for something I lost). Then, I feel like I should be making better choices and SOMEHOW I could have made my circumstances different if I had just done something else rather than what I did. That’s when I have a tough time being on the receiving end of something special.

It’s a challenge to receive the truth about ourselves, isn’t it? We are worthy of respect and love and kindness of others–whether we feel and believe and know it or not, whether it’s a good day or a tough one. We have been lovingly made and are worth the time God and others pour into us everyday. These gifts do not exclude any one person on this Earth, despite our imperfections, mistakes and sometimes horrible choices.

I am learning more and more to receive the truth of my worthiness everyday. I’ve been thanking God for this, and you know what I’ve noticed?Image It’s settling around my shoulders like a warm blanket on a winter’s day.

What a gift.

Content

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This has been the most peaceful Christmas yet. I can’t remember, ever, another holiday time when I felt as calm and joyful as I have felt today. We opened our present (yes, one) after a long, drawn-out breakfast of cereal and berries and Monkey Bread that I made and cannot eat. It’s been sunny and cold today, and I haven’t stepped outside. I didn’t wear my best clothes or think about what else I could be doing. I didn’t worry about who I wish I could talk to or be with just because it’s Christmas. This day has been full of the present–not the one I unwrapped or a list of met expectations. This day has been one of love and laughter of family. It has been pure joy, and that is peace. I am breathing the precious gift of contentment, and I want to stay.

An Imperfect Christmas?

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As a kid of divorce, I was used to splitting holidays; it came with the territory. As an adult, I used to (meaning until last year :)) spend a lot of time and mental energy making sure my holiday was all I wanted it to be. All I wanted it to be changed over the years. Some years, it meant making arrangements with various family members/ friends early in November. Other times, it was choosing not to decide who to be with because my story has always contained certain people who are not going to be around others. Oh, but I worked hard to ensure I would have a happy holiday, regardless…and I was still disappointed at times because whatever I did wasn’t perfect.

Well, this year, I started consciously trying to change this little habit I have always had:  all-out refusing to wait. So when November (and the impending holidays) rolled around, I started questioning why. Why did I work so hard to make these days special in the past, instead of just resting and knowing that all would be as it should be? Why not wait to see what happens without making it happen (or trying to)?

Christmas came and went, and it was different than most I’ve been a part of before.

It was calm and relaxing every. minute. of. the. day (except for that one time I said, We HAVE to open presents before we go to the movie! And then there was that other thing….ARGH! Oh, seriously! Those sneaky, old habits are hard, hard, hard to break).

Some of my friends and family called me. Some sent texts. I called some. I sent texts. I saw some on THE day and weeks before, and I will see some weeks later. All of that is okay.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  it doesn’t take celebrating together on certain days or during certain weeks or even months to prove that there is a lot of love in my circles. I am surrounded by the compassion of friends and family, and I am warmed and supported and content.

I am grateful for those I am with right now, those who are close and those who are far away. I am thankful for change and healing and more peace than I know what to do with some days. There is no perfect holiday that I can arrange, anyway. And really, IS there such a thing?!

Christmas was never about perfection (Jesus was born in an old barn and all. Hmm, how hard was that for Him?).

My imperfect is exactly as it is–knowing those I love also love me in their own unique way. It’s being content with where I am and who I’m with, and that feels…

perfect.

~Many thanks for reading. May 2013 bring you love and peace in the midst of the imperfections!