How to Receive

identity Aug 02, 2021

This is a written summary of my latest video, for those that prefer to read than watch.  If you’d prefer to watch, you can find the video here.

Are you a good receiver?  You know, when someone gives you a gift or time or help you didn’t even know you needed?  What about when someone gives you a compliment?  Do you say “oh, it was nothing?”  Or, do you simply say “thank you?”  Receiving is definitely about gratitude, so “thank you” is a GREAT place to start.  But what does it mean to be a good receiver?

I don’t know about you, but I grew up hearing that “it is better to give than to receive.”  I would imagine a lot of us did.  But, here’s the thing.  Giving is only half the story.  We also have to be willing to receive.  That could mean receiving negative feedback or constructive criticism.  And, for the most part, we’ve all probably been told to receive that.  I’m sure you’ve been told to be “teachable” or “there’s always something to improve.”  I know I’ve said those things.  So, you could say we’ve been taught to give the good and receive the bad.

But what if we were done a disservice with those seemingly positive instructions?  There’s a lot more to receiving than improving ourselves.  

Receiving for the receiver is a more passive state, too.  Yes, I just related giving and receiving to action and stillness, because they ARE related.  Amanda Owen makes this point really well in her book “The Power of Receiving.”  So, if that caught your attention, you’ll definitely want to grab that book.  


But, wait.  There’s more.  Let’s get a little more real, shall we?  We are not all that great at receiving things like compliments or help from other people (whether we need that help or not).  Have you ever said “thanks, I’ve got this”?  Or, how about “this is too much, I can’t accept”?  Those are phrases I thought were courteous and polite ways to respond to a giver.


For those of you that don’t know, five years ago, my oldest son died.  The medical team was able to keep him alive until I could get there to say goodbye, and I will forever be grateful.  I was out of town on a business trip, so it was several hours between when my best friend called to tell me and when I got there.  Our best friends gave us the gift of being with all our boys until we could get there.  From that moment on the morning of March 1, 2016 until a LOOOONG time later, I was forced to become 100% receiver.  I didn’t have anything to give.  I didn’t think I could go on, and it was all I could do to shower and be where I was supposed to be that first week.  Other people cleaned our house, brought us meals, sent flowers, pulled together all the photos for Josh’s memorial video, printed many of those photos, and shared stories with us of how Josh positively impacted their lives.  Not only was this level of receiving absolutely necessary for us, it was humbling.  You see, allowing others to give to you and receiving those gifts with a simple thank you, allows them to share their love with you and the world.  

Maya Angelou said “When we give cheerfully and receive gratefully, everyone is blessed.”


St. Francis of Assissi said “For it is in giving that we receive.”  In other words, when we receive, we’re allowing the giver to receive, as well.  Think about the gift you’re giving the giver, when you receive.  Receiving gives the giver the opportunity to give🙂.  


Next time someone gives you a present of time or money — or even a compliment, receive it gratefully and be thankful for the opportunity to allow them to give.

All my life, no matter what change I’ve experienced, I’ve been able to use journaling to remember who I am, begin to understand what I can learn from this change, and how my experience can help other people going through something similar.  Get my free prompts, “Journaling for Answers,” and start finding your own answers within.

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