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…It is more blessed to give than to receive.  ~Acts 20:35

For those who have been brought up in a Christian environment or a culture strongly influenced by Christian thought, this may be a quote that is quite familiar to you. What often comes with this saying is a guilt-trip…to share anything and everything that one has acquired, no matter how much one has.

As a result, any time a gift comes your way, there’s a little niggling thought in the back of your mind…an annoying voice sounding something like this: you shouldn’t be so selfish…you should share with others…you shouldn’t enjoy your successes because it makes others feel bad if they haven’t achieved the same as you…to like what you’ve received is to be prideful…pride goeth before a fall…it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…you cannot serve both God and money…money is the root of all evil…I shouldn’t want so much…I should be content with whatever I have…I shouldn’t try so hard…I don’t really deserve this…I didn’t work hard enough for this…if I accept this I’m obligated to someone…I don’t have a gift to give in return… You get the idea.

Another result of this idea is that people learn to give gifts…usually poorly. To be fair, most people do try to give good gifts…the trouble is that the gifts are given with longing rather than with generosity. This means then, that most people give gifts that they would like to receive, rather than what the other person would like to receive. Very few people have truly learned the art of giving a gift that is precisely and beautifully appropriate both for the person and the occasion. And, I am suggesting that it’s because of the above quote.

Firstly, in order to give a gift, you must not be in a place of longing within yourself, for by being in that place, your offering cannot be qualified as a gift. The only way to give a gift is to give from a place of abundance…which means you have to have received first…to the point of overflowing. Only when your needs and wants are met in a particular area can you truly give a gift.

Secondly, in order to give a gift, someone else must receive it. Think about the most amazing gift you have given to another person. Anticipating how the recipient will respond to your gift is almost more exciting and fulfilling than the gift itself. What happens then when the gift is given? How does the other person respond? As you imagined…or by brushing it off with embarrassment or guilt? If the latter, what was the ultimate experience as the giver? Is it something you want to do again?

Learning how to receive a gift is, in my opinion, more important than giving. It requires you to be humble…to accept something that you may not have expected, earned, deserve, or even want…which is the point. It is a gift. Gifts do not require anything in return…they are offered unconditionally…you then have the choice to accept it or refuse it. If you do choose to receive it, you now have the opportunity to receive it gracefully.

To receive a gift gracefully, it is important to remember that a gift is not about you and your agenda…it’s about the other person responding to your presence in his/her life. It is about someone sharing his/her abundance with you. Rather than listening to your thoughts about why you should or shouldn’t receive the gift or that you would have rather have something else, tune in to the person giving the gift to you. If possible, look into the eyes of the giver to see how this person sees you. Listen to the giver in order to hear and understand the reason and inspiration for the gift. Feel the emotion behind the words for additional information. Set aside all personal wants, preferences, desires, criticisms, and judgments and open your heart to fully receive all that the giver has to give to you. Allow the gift to overflow your heart with the love and appreciation the giver wishes to share with you. When you do this, it all of a sudden doesn’t matter what that person has physically shared with you because you are fully receiving the energy of the gift…which is ultimately the greatest gift of all.

Then, express gratitude…sincerely, and from the heart. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate speech…spoken sincerely from a full place of receiving and gratefulness, the simple words “Thank you” will have just as much weight as a paragraph. When spoken from this place, the giver can energetically feel the acceptance and reception of the gift, and the transaction completes.

The truth is, when the giver gives unconditionally, and the receiver receives humbly and with an open heart of gratitude, both have given, and both have received…and both experience blessings of abundance.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

And so it is.