We are called to have a generous spirit to give to others in need. I don’t think anyone can argue that having a generous spirit is a bad thing. But have you given much thought lately to whether you have a receiving spirit?
I was confronted in high school by one of my friends after arguing with her mother over a box of candy.
We stopped by Walmart one day on the way to their house. It was close to Valentine’s Day, and the aisles were packed with candy. I picked up a box of conversation hearts. They’ve always been one of my favorites. My friend’s mother tried to pay for the candy, but instead of allowing her to be nice, I threw a fit about it.
Why Did it Matter
And I knew why it was a big deal to me. I didn’t want my friend or her family to think that I was expecting them to give me gifts or trying to take advantage of them. It was $1.50. It wasn’t a huge deal. But it was for me.
My friend and I both stalked out of that store. As we got to the car, she pulled me aside and called me out on it.
“I can’t believe you wouldn’t just take the candy!”
“I didn’t ask for her to pay for it! She didn’t need to! I—”
“You can be so prideful sometimes!”
“Prideful…no, this isn’t about my pride!”
“Well, whatever you want to call it – it’s rude. You could have just said thank you. But you didn’t! You need to apologize to my mother!”
During the awkward ten-minute drive to their house, I thanked her mother repeatedly for the candy. But I didn’t say, “I’m sorry,” because I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure who was in the wrong. That relationship suffered from my own stubbornness. Now I can say without a doubt that I was suffering from a prideful, unreceiving spirit.
Being Open to Receive
Being a very private person, I like a lot of alone time. In college, my best friend like the same thing. I didn’t think anything of our laid back friendship until one interesting conversation in which we talked about everything that we had been through that semester: sprained ankles, sprained tailbones, car trouble during testing season, colds, food poison, chronic dizzy sells, a concussion.
And why didn’t we call each other in the middle of our problems and say, “I need help. I need a ride. I need medicine or I need soup. I need a friend. I need some of your time and some encouragement”?
We didn’t want to bother each other with our problems. We just figured the other was busy enough with their own lives. All that time I wasn’t being a good friend, and I also wasn’t allowing her to be a good friend. And it’s not like this problem came as a surprise to me. So many different people have tried to talk to me about how ungraceful I am when it comes to receiving help from others.
I know I’m not the only one who experiences problems in this area. So I wanted to share something that the Lord told me about this.
You cannot do this on your own. You need help to make it through this life. If you can’t accept the help of your friends and family, then what will you do when you realize that you need my help? Will you allow me to fill you? Or will you reason with yourself that you shouldn’t need my help or that I don’t want to help you or that you’ve waited too long or that you can do it on your own? I have given you a community to care for you. You have to learn to accept their help – and mine – even in the small things, so that you can be filled with love. Then you will be able to turn around and show that love to others.
If I had gotten a call saying that my friend was in the hospital with a concussion, I would have dropped everything to be there for her. And I know that she would have done the same for me. I knew that in my heart, but I didn’t know that in my head. I wasn’t there for her, so why would she have been there for me?
That’s another reason why we don’t accept aid from others sometimes.
We don’t feel like we deserve to be helped. Our problems aren’t as big as everyone else’s, or we are supposed to always give and never take. It stings to realize that this a problem I’m still wrestling with, but the Holy Spirit’s prompting has made me realize that it’s not just a goal to have a receiving spirit. It’s a necessity. Without growing a receiving spirit within ourselves, we cannot even begin to grow a generous spirit.
Why is it so hard to have a receiving spirit?
We have to ask ourselves that. What’s your reason? Is it pride, or fear, or anger? Ask the Holy Spirit if this might be something that’s standing in your way right now, and then ask for the wisdom and strength to move past that hurdle.
We must have receiving spirits if we are to have generous spirits.