On receiving


Christmas is most naturally about giving. God gave his only son to be born and then die in the loneliest way. Giving is sacrificial, heroic. In all of our roles we are expected to give - parents, children, friends, lovers, leaders, employees…. Less is said about receiving. 

Christmas to me is also about receiving! You can joyfully give when you know you have received. When you know you have plenty, more than what you need, giving is a "no-brainer". I don't know how the maths works, but we somehow always receive more than we can give. Even in the worst of times. Haven't we all witnessed or read, in the midst of disaster, humans who act in courage and generosity towards others? Conversely, it is harder to give when you feel you have been denied the things you want or deserve. Even when you give, at the back of your mind you may be counting the cost, or feeling envious of others who have more.

Receiving is an art. It takes cognition but also daily practice. J taught me this actually. He used to say “做人要可愛”. 可愛in Chinese is often translated as “adorable”. In this context, it means “capable of receiving love, of being loved”. It has nothing to do with you being worthy of love. It has everything to do with whether you can recognise the love you are given, that you are a beloved.

So, graciously accept the compliment (or flattery haha) and with gratitude, accept the help you need. If someone gives you a piece of themselves, with your open arms, receive. There is no giver if there is no recipient. 

At the risk of sounding glib, it occurred to me recently that the best things I have were all given to me, often DESPITE my actions:
1. A love for reading and drawing. My non-arty parents somehow made sure I always had books and drawing material.
2. Knowing God. Even after I ignored or rebelled against that knowledge, God made himself known.
3. My education. I applied only to US colleges but PSC gave me a scholarship to a UK college. Duh but thank you! 
4. My work. I didn’t want my current role at all and J didn’t approve for a long time. But it has become such a deep blessing of people and purpose.
5. The one boy I thought I didn’t like, thankfully he persisted and became my bestest friend. We were given 18 great years together.
6. With my spate of pretty shit health, God gave me doctors who had heart and skill.
7. Family and friends, without asking, give their love, kindness, time, forgiveness - everything in generosity. 

When you list it all down like this, doesn’t it feel like a whole darn lot? We all have a receipt that only grows longer each day we live. To top it all off, God loved us while we were not 可愛, and because of that, we are made 可愛. The only thing we can and must do is to - receive.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Merry Christmas to you - thank you for another reflective post. (Thank you for your reply to my anon post on 'time' - I am heartened by your comments to stay strong not just during this pandemic, but to be fighting to live well in all our very self-contained modern lives) I am guilty of eating too much chocolates and binge-watching too many kdramas this festive period , particularly of the lovey-dovey romance type. Only because it's a way of escaping to another place for me to relive particularly those tragic yet unforgettable moments. I used to think it's better to give than to receive but as one learns with experience, we cannot be giving all of the time, we need to receive and with graciousness. We also tend to forget all the people and things we can be thankful for amidst our own struggles , stress and problems. I am equally poor in the way I receive from others - totally incapable of recognising that I am enough and not having to punish myself by beating myself up further. While we are all busy with our own little lives, let's all be grateful for where we stand now, the people who care and love us, and recognising the true meaning of Christmas ie receiving the love of God.
ampulets said…
Anon - Merry Christmas to you too! Sounds like you are having a great festive season - chocolates and Kdrama romance! ;P Our little lives are all we have. So here's wishing you a 2022 of giving and receiving all the sugary, sweet bits of life!

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