The holiday season is kicking off and the messages are coming through loud and clear on tv, social media, and ads in our mailbox. The message I’m talking about is the one that tells you to give. To give thoughtful gifts. To give of your time. To give financially to needs in your community. I know you’ve all heard this before…

It is better to give than to receive.

I believe this to be true, but this holiday season, I want to flip the narrative. Rather than only thinking about giving, I want you to pause and think about receiving.

Before you go all crazy on me and assume I’m a selfish Grinch who wants to take, take, take… hear me out. 

You cannot give without someone else being willing to receive. Therefore, someone else cannot give if you are not also willing to receive.

Perhaps you think that is a very simple and obvious statement. But let me tell you… in both my personal and professional life, I have encountered many people who are not willing to receive help or to receive gifts. These people are convinced that they’ve got it handled and that someone else is in more need than they are, and so therefore, they should not receive. But in all fairness, there will always be someone who’s needs are greater than yours and there will also always be someone who’s needs are less than yours. Receiving a gift or service offered to you by someone else is less about filling a need, and more about building a relationship.

I believe that the beauty in giving is not in the act itself, but in the receipt of the gift. Think about it this way. How would you feel if you pinched your pennies, pulled together some extra cash, and got your kid the gift he had been dreaming about that you didn’t think you would be able to afford. You wrap it up just right. You put it under the tree. And when he opens it, he says “gee, thanks… but I don’t need this,” and then proceeds to leave it sit on a shelf for years to come. Untouched. Unloved. A waste of your efforts. Ouch, right?

Instead, how would you feel if his face lit up with gratitude. If he gave you the biggest hug imaginable. If he was humbled by the sacrifice you made. And if he loved that gift well, day in and day out?

Friends, let’s set aside the idea of giving and receiving gifts for a moment and let’s talk about serving each other. Doing favors for each other. Helping out our friends and letting them help us. This is where I think we struggle most as adults and I fear that it’s an issue of pride. A symptom of wanting to appear as if we’ve got it all together and that we can ‘do it all.’ As a founder of Komae, an app created for the very purpose of swapping favors with friends, I hear this ALL the time.

“I would love to help my friend, but I feel bad letting her help me.”

You guys. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Your friend feels the same way about you! They want to help you and they feel bad letting you help them. And guess what? If you both let each other help… if you were both willing to receive… well, then you would both have the opportunity to bless someone with your giving.

Keep giving this holiday season. Give generously. But when someone wants to return the favor… when they want to give to you… say yes. And accept that great gift with joy.

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