"You're in charge!"
"You did the nice thing!"
"You look good in someone else's eyes!"
Receiving, on the other hand, means:
You're not in control.
The score isn't tied.
You aren't the one in power.
And you can't take any credit.
I'd like to believe that giving is a selfless act (and for those of you with perfect hearts, I'm sure it is), but a lot of the time for me, it's laced with selfishness because I gain the unseen upper hand in the relationship. The giving is so masked in goodness that the other person doesn't even realize (and often I don't even realize) how self-promoting I'm actually being. Because the truth is that I want the relational upper hand; it makes me feel better about myself. I want to have the balance thud decidedly on my side. I want to be thought of as thoughtful and selfless. And receiving really isn't any of that.
In the last month, a dear friend bought me coffee and another brought over dinner for no reason at all, and I found myself inwardly scrambling for how to make it up to them. "I'll pay for coffee next time," or "I'll make her dinner next month." Scorekeeper-style--yuck. Neither of those women were offering those gifts to me with the expectation that I'd do something for them in return, but unless I did, I had trouble settling into the receiver role.
And it makes me wonder if that's how I see God a lot of the time--a scorekeeper who's waiting for me to repay Him, or someone I can turn to and say, "Look! I did something nice! Now you can do something nice for me!" Clearly, bad theology and not something I actually believe in my core, but if I'm honest about the way I functionally live out what I believe, it typically goes something like that. Earn. Earn. Guilt. Guilt. Work. Work. Not Enough. Not Enough. But the truth is that I am on the receiving end of things when it comes to God--not in control and in His debt. And that's actually my strength: It's finished. The score is settled. And I can't take any credit because it's all been given to me.
I don't really know how to make my giving more selfless and genuine and my receiving more rested. But I'm guessing that scorekeeping view of God and everyone has something to do with it. I need to get acquainted with being a loser in the best possible sense, because as strange as it sounds I really do believe that the way up is down.