What Do You Think Wednesday – Is It Harder To Give or To Receive?


Toddler-saurus Rex has no problem receiving. Look at that smile that came from his gifts from Grandma!

We often talk about how hard it is to give of our hard-earned material possessions but how, once we overcome our hesitations, we reap great rewards.  Giving makes us feel good.  It actually promotes good health – Google it! It’s true. We share and then we feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

In my years working with churches I’ve seen countless smiling people pull up and drop off bags full of groceries, coats and clothing for those in need, baby items, cash donations and more.  The sentiment was nearly universal. “I am so thankful to be able to give this.  I’m glad someone will be able to put it to good use.”

It’s an amazing thing to witness.  I truly believe that people who give to those in need are reflecting the very face of God.

On the other hand, the people coming to claim those items would have tears of shame in their eyes.  Their cheeks would burn red as they said, “I know I was just here 3 weeks ago and the rules say 4 but we don’t have any more diapers.  Can you help?”

They would sob, openly, and say, “I’m so sorry! I tried to pay the rent. We just couldn’t do it. I’ve never asked anything like this before.”

They would come in with furtive glances, hoping no one would see them and judge them.

And then there are those who are obviously struggling.  The people who just can’t make ends meet this month but would rather go hungry than ask for help.  “I won’t go to the food pantry. That’s for poor people who really need it,” they say, not willing to be identified as one of “those people.”

I find myself falling into this pattern, even in the giving and receiving of Christmas gifts.  I was mortified to be given a large bag of homemade treats by a lovely woman at my church when I hadn’t even thought to send her a card.  It was sheer joy to give gifts this year but receiving them… especially that one… it was hard to do.

What do you think?  Is it harder to give or receive?  

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

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24 responses »

  1. I definitely think it is harder to receive! I’ve always been a giver, and being the receiver makes me have all the feelings you described. Having a child (or two ) with chronic illness has made me a little more accepting for being on the other end, simply because I couldn’t have made it without a little help from my friends (sometimes I HAD to let a friend pick up one son from school since I was running late at the hospital with the other- sometimes knowing my family at home had a casserole from the neighbors while we were inpatient AGAIN was really comforting, because otherwise, I knew that my youngest would have been eating fast food the entire week… Being on the other side made me more humble and also made me recognize that I wasn’t “too good” to need help every now and again. It also made me realize that by accepting when I really needed to, that I was allowing someone else to have that really great “I did a good thing” feeling that I ALWAYS get when I help someone else…everything comes full circle, right?

  2. Not so long ago, my little family was in need, but we wouldn’t go to the food pantry either, especially to go to one in our little community would have been so difficult! I’m glad to say that we are in a position to give again (or maybe truer words would be that I’m proud to say…). Why is it so hard to admit that we all need a little help now and then? It’s not always financially, maybe we just need a little extra love and companionship. Our family has had the biggest rollercoaster of the entire year experienced just this past week. Last night we celebrated the wedding of my stepson, a joyous occasion to be sure, but just a few days prior, the news was broke to us that a nephew of ours has committed suicide. Having been in that place in my life before (not many people know) all I keep thinking about is how lonely he felt prior to doing it. Of course I know that there’s nothing we could have done to prevent it, but I still wonder if we all just showed our love to him a little more, if he’d still be on this earth with us. Giving and receiving isn’t always just about physical gifts, but spiritual and emotional as well. I know I can be stingy with showing my love, just out of fear that’s it’s not reciprocated, but maybe I need to do it anyway. Who knows what little act of love and kindness can do for someone.

    • Interesting! You know… I was really just thinking of material things but you are so very right! The same idea carries over very much into our emotional lives.

  3. You are so right about receiving being difficult. Sadly, it’s our pride that causes us to miss out on the blessing of receiving, as well as causes others to be robbed of the blessing of giving. I know from experience that receiving is a very humbling experience…that’s often why God allows those times in our lives. It’s almost harder to be a more gracious receiver than giver. Great thoughts for the New Year….Have a Happy and Blessed 2014!

    • Imagine how much better off we would all be if we could kick pride to the side… not just in giving and receiving, but in everything. I know it’s a constant struggle for me!

  4. The last few years, my husband and I had been really struggling to make it with all of our student debt and our part-time retail jobs in Boston. After we made the move to Phoenix, we got full-time jobs, etc it became a lot easier. When we received checks in the mail this Christmas, tears came to my eyes thinking about how our families were helping support us for so long and that we needed them to survive. It has been incredibly hard but amazing to accept gifts from family, and I have enjoyed being able to buy gifts for them for the first time in..well…EVER!

    Anyway, that’s just my take on it!
    Happy New Year to you and your family! May the year bring you endless blessings!


    • Where would we be without our people? Isn’t it a great moment when we get to show them, even if just in some small way, how much we love them?

  5. Ooooh, that’s a tough one. As I’m learning about myself, I guess for me it’s harder to give. I find I can give of my time, love, service, money, etc. But…don’t ask for my stuff! lol. It’s terrible. I actually pray about having an open hand- it all belongs to God anyway. I want to give till it hurts (with a happy heart).

    • Haha! “Stuff.” It’s so true! If Jesus said, “sell EVERYTHING and follow me.” I’d be like, “how about everything except what I can fit in this one box?” Maybe that’s why He doesn’t let me have too much. He knows I’d become overly attached.

  6. For me, it’s definitely harder to give. It’s easy for me to just give a gift for the sake of giving a gift, but I struggle with finding meaningful gifts. I just don’t think about it. My hubby’s love language is gifts. He gives really thoughtful, meaningful gifts. This is something I need to work on.

    • Some people have a real talent for that. My friend, Maria, would always know the right moment. She didn’t give big gifts but she would show up on my doorstep with a frozen lasagna and say, “I know you have a really busy week ahead. I thought this might help you.” It would never in a million years occur to me to do that. I wish that it would! I think that was the special way that God shone through her. Hopefully I have different ways.

  7. I find it very hard to recieve things. Not that I am not greatful, just well I much rather make people smile. Then I have to step back and realize that by recieving I let others find that same joy in giving and I would hate to take that feeling from anyone.

  8. It’s so much harder to receive. My husband and have had it rough the past few years, because of having to close our business. We’re both college educated and have always been able to provide for ourselves and our kids. In the past I’ve dropped off packs of diapers, filled gas tanks and dropped off groceries for friends that have hit rough times. We’ve donated cars, clothing, toys to different charities in the past. The past five years for us have been like no other. We’ve been in foreclosure, collected unemployment, received food assistance and state health insurance. When my daughters preschool didn’t hound me for missed tuition payments and donated gifts for my children I was both incredibly grateful but also mortified. What if someone knows it’s me? What if If someone sees me using an access card to pay for groceries? What if I’m recognized at the pediatrician’s office using the state insurance card?

  9. So much easier to give! For me, receiving somehow means I have failed at something or am less of a person. I know in my heart I am not but I just have that nagging voice telling me someone is needier and if I need it, then I must have made a bad choice along the line and am being punished. Therapy! Therapy!

    • I don’t think it’s just you. I think our whole culture is built on that. We revere the person who, “did it all on their own.” But the reality is, that’s just an illusion. No one does anything in a bubble.

    • Me too. I feel like I don’t want to be a burden on anyone. Oddly, though, when people ask for MY help I am honored that they trust me to help them. Somehow my mind just can’t translate that all around properly.

  10. Receiving is definitely harder! I don’t like it! I love gifts…opening something from my family or friends is okay…but when people want to be generous in other ways, such as offering help with doing things, monetary assistance, etc–I can’t handle it!!!!! I should be able to provide for my own family and get things done on my own. I shouldn’t need help. I don’t want help. It should be all ME ME ME! Hello, PRIDE! Pride comes before the fall…it’s just as bad as being a compulsive and thankless “taker”…

    Thanks for sharing on the Daily Blog Boost!
    – Brooke –

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