Saturday, March 7, 2009


I find the two most stressful times in the year for me are Christmas and my birthday. After 48 of them, I am finally figuring out why. I am a lousy receiver of gifts. I like to say ‘I’m not a gift guy’, but what does that mean? The truth is, I don’t like to be on the receiving end of gifts, generosity, support, etc.

I started thinking about how it’s just easier for me to be in the giver’s seat. Its not that I am particularly generous, its more to do with my ability to control the situation. When I receive something I have no idea what is coming. Receiving makes me vulnerable.

This past Christmas there was a viral video going around called the “Advent Conspiracy” it was advocating not spending money on gifts but rather focus on relationships, and give the money to projects supporting clean water in Africa. I thought this was great. I showed it a close friend who I thought would totally appreciate the video’s creativity and message away from the material focus of Advent. He was visually upset after watching it. ‘Great, another excuse for my wife not to give me a present!’

My friend loves getting gifts. I mean loves it. He’s also very good at letting me know when he needs help or support. He is a great receiver. We make a good team. But, he is also a really good giver. Out of the blue he will give me something that is so perfect and thoughtful – his receiving informs his giving.

It seems an odd thing, not wanting to receive. We live in a very self sufficient culture. Like Mary Tyler Moore “we’re gonna make it on our own”. I think, given the choice, most people, with the exception of my aforementioned friend, would prefer to be on the giving end of things – whether that’s gifts, help, support, etc. But, there is something to be able to receive, to accept openly that which we are given.

I am learning that this receiving is a practice, like a spiritual practice. It requires open hands, open heart. Maybe it is better to receive than to give.

1 comment:

  1. This is good Rory. We both know what it is like to give and not have the gift received as we had hoped. I think maybe God has that same sadness, that God's good gift is looked at a bit squintily by some of us. I wonder if maybe our Fate in fact depends on us becoming good receivers. Not sure, but I do know that receiving requires a humility that is dis-empowering and it is hard to give up what power I feel like I have in any given moment. And yet, that is the Call...