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Updated on December 16, 2009


There is much to take in, just let it in
There is much to take in, just let it in
There's probably an ocean of love and gifts for each of us
There's probably an ocean of love and gifts for each of us


This blog is part of a series. You might want to check out the initial blog of the series

to get a quick overview snapshot of the series and how this blog fits in. BUT this blog also stands on its own!! Well, maybe it’s tilting just a tad! Okay, I’ll shush so you can read.

Some folks are pretty good at giving, but have a difficult time RECEIVING. My Dad was one of those folks. Perhaps it was something left over from the Great Depression or related to his father’s premature death.

We were always excited to try to find the perfect gift for Dad’s birthday and for Christmas. But if we were ever successful, he sure never let us know. He was always dismissive of our gifts and made comments to the effect that he didn’t need the gifts we gave him. "What am I going to do with this?" he would ask.

As I grew up a little bit, I finally realized whatever was happening there with Dad was really about him and not about us. I can only speculate, but it seems that he did not feel worthy to receive. As I alluded to above, perhaps it had to do with the premature death of his father when he was fifteen years old and the subsequent craziness he experienced within his own family as a result of his father’s death.

Traumas can leave a person with a deep sense of shame and unworthiness. It perhaps makes no sense to the logical mind, but it makes perfectly good sense to the overwhelming emotional experience of trauma. Something along the lines of "there must be something terribly flawed or bad about me that God or life would choose me for such an awful and inexplicable trauma. No one will want to be around me, let alone give anything to me. Whatever I have might be contagious!"

Shifting gears a tad, I guess there is a line between being open to receiving and taking advantage of another person’s generosity. I say, "I guess" because I’m not really sure about that. I think sometimes we say to ourselves, "I don’t want to take advantage," as a defense to being open to receiving what someone else is wanting to give to us.

Being able to receive is an important experience. It requires giving up control. It requires humility. It means having to acknowledge

*that you DON’T have it all, and you can’t meet all your needs.

*Yes, you NEED loved ones and friends to meet your needs!

*Yes, as grown up as I am, when it is all said and done, I’m still dependent.

Unfortunately, the whole experience of dependence is very threatening to some folks. It is so threatening that they literally drive love ones away and sometimes even into the ground as a way of avoiding having to receive from them. If I allow myself the experience of receiving, I might have to acknowledge just how empty I really feel, and for some folks, that is paramount to annihilation.

Some developmental psychologists suggests, that if all goes well, by the time we are nine months old, we learn to love and be loved. So the experience is not only LOVING, but BEING loved. Receiving again.

Well, it is obviously not a perfect world, and none of us are perfect parents, so none of us are going to get through the first nine months of life without some bumps in the road, and perhaps those early bumps set us up for having difficulties RECEVING. This is not about blame, but just about the world not being perfect.

When I hear couples talking about marriage or partnership being a give and a take, I like to suggest that they look at it a tad differently. It is a giving and a receiving!

I just had this interesting thought. Perhaps the physiological correlate to receiving is BREATHING. So many of us do not breathe. We spend most of our waking moments holding our breath or breathing very shallow! Isn’t that wild! So perhaps the road to being more open to receiving, is becoming more conscious of our breathing and taking the time each day to do a little yoga breathing and RECEIVE an abundance of oxygen into our body (if there’s any left out there!), and restore our openness and receptivity to life itself.

Perhaps my lack of whatever, is less about luck, less about worthiness, less about smarts, and more about my lack of openness to receive what is already there waiting for me.

Someone, in recent years, took the Jabeth prayer and expanded it into a small inspirational book. In this little book, the author suggests that there is literally a "warehouse" of blessings designated for specific people who have not received their designated blessings because they are not open to asking and receiving.

What an interesting thought!

I am sure that the bottom line for many of us is we are afraid of being indebted to whoever it is that is giving to us. Wow! We are afraid of being indebted. What is so awful about being indebted to someone who loves us so much that they want to give us the perfect birthday or Christmas gift, or they want to see a smile on our face, or they want us to be happy, or they want to be in relationship with us? From the perspective of not wanting to be indebted, being closed off to receiving is really very very–here it comes, that word we all hated when we were little-- SELFISH!

Share with us your experience of receiving and what keeps you from being more open to receiving.



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    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      8 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Congratulations, Kim! I have a blog in the hopper on Grandfathers. I'm sure much of it will apply to Grandmothers as well. So again Congratulations. And thanks for reading the blog and leaving a comment. Let yourself RECEIVE all the good excitement about being Nana or granny or grandma or gee gee or whatever you are in your family.


    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 

      8 years ago

      I just received a gift from a co-worker today. She came across a book titled, "The Hip Grandma's Handbook," thought of me because I'm about to be a Grandma, and gave it to me. A few months ago, she was really sick at work but couldn't take time off, so at lunch I brought her back some chicken soup from my favorite Italian restaurant. I do believe it's good to be able to give and receive. Of course, it's good to be able to say "no" sometimes too. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Thanks for another good read, Vern.

    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      8 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Wow, thanks for your sharing. I love the stories about Bill. He was/still is an important person in your life. I have a fantasy about the moment the funeral home gave you the cross. It's such a mixed bag, you know. "Damn, Bill, just can't receive a gift, can you?" And yet, it is a treasure and a gift from him, as you say from beyond the gate. You know, you might be right about the book. Maybe it is Jabez!! Thanks for reading and all your comments.

    • palmerlarryray profile image

      Larry Ray Palmer 

      8 years ago from Macon, Missouri

      Hey Vern, I think I found out why you can find the book... Could it be The Prayer of Jabez? Instead of Jabeth.

    • palmerlarryray profile image

      Larry Ray Palmer 

      8 years ago from Macon, Missouri

      Any idea what the name of that book is? I am looking to find it for you but have very little luck.

      The hub was great. I find the older I get, I get a lot more gracious about accepting gifts. The last two years, our family has been sponsored by a local Christmas Angel program organized by the local churches. At first, I was totally against the idea. If I couldn't buy my kids Christmas, why should I accept a handout from anyone else? Then, when the ladies showed up at the door and they were so happy I realized, they were doing this as much for the way it made them feel as they were doing it to help us. I used to be quite the cynic and now I realize not everyone in the world is selfish or looking down on people.

      I learned a lot about giving and receiving from my friend Bill that I had mentioned in comments before. He was one of those guys who had everything. He loved to buy presents for my kids and me... but you could never give him a present. If I bought him something, he would go out and spend twice as much to buy me something.

      The night Bill lay in the hospital bed a few hours before he died, I wanted him to have a cross. I ran across the highway to the dollar shop to buy one with the last bit of change I had but they were all out.

      Running back to the hospital, I remembered I was wearing my cross so I slipped it off my neck and when I got to the room, I put it on Bill. It wasn't much but it was important to me that he had it when he passed.

      He died later that night and I was there with him. The funeral home sent a guy out to pick him up and we made the arrangements for his cremation.

      A few days later, they called to tell me the cremation was over and they needed me to come and make the final arrangements so I went with my wife to the funeral home. We were just finishing up and getting ready to leave when the funeral home director says "Hold on. I've got something that's yours." ... And he put the cross in my hand. Even in death, he couldn't accept that someone had given him anything. I carry that cross in my wallet now. It's my last gift from Bill. The one he handed back to me from beyond the gate.


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