Balance: Accepting a Gift

"Accepting the gift honors the giver." 

~ Stephen R. Donaldson

My struggle with balance has been a long one - balancing Body & Spirit, balancing Male & Female (some people call this Yin & Yang), and, ultimately, balancing my ability to Give with my ability to Receive.

I’ve never had much of a problem with giving. Giving is easy; it fits right in there with the old adage, "It is better to give than to receive." and dovetails well with the concept that giving is the Christian Thing to do. Acting on these myths (what a nice name for lies) I have gone through life secure in the knowledge that if I was giving; then I was good. Of course, the unstated part of this belief is that receiving is only for those who are evil, sinful, selfish, or totally destitute.

Years ago, when I started my struggle with balance, I was meditating and remembered a philosophy Stephen R. Donaldson had one of his characters, a giant, express to the hero of his novel who was having trouble accepting a gift. He said, "Accepting the gift honors the giver." This is when I started to consider the idea that receiving wasn't a sin. From this perspective, it could even be viewed as a form of giving! It was a glimmer of hope. At last, I could start to forgive myself for receiving. It seems kind of odd in retrospect - forgiving myself for receiving, for having, but that is what I needed to do in order to clearly see (and release) the lies that keep me out of balance and prevent me from owning the gifts I have to offer.

Once I started to work on balance consciously, I discovered many things that gave me permission to receive. The greatest revelation came when I took a look at the bible and at Jesus. I was hoping to find something that said (or at least hinted) that receiving was okay. What I found were countless variations on the theme, "Have faith and God will provide for you." After a while, I understood that THIS was my permission to receive. God will provide; but I must be willing to receive the provisions, or they will go unclaimed and wasted. The very presence of the gifts was the permission I'd been seeking.

I then took the thought further. I started to reflect on Jesus and those last three years of his life. I've always been taught to view Jesus as a Great Healer. Poor & humble: an endless source of healing which never took anything back. I am not alone in this belief. For over 2000 years, people on this planet have been running around trying to emulate the man by doing Christian Good Works. This perspective, however, leaves no room for balance. Humm...

The bible talks a lot about the "mission" part of Jesus' life - where he went, what he did, what he said - and says almost nothing about his practical survival. How did he provide food, clothing, shelter, and living expenses for three years for more than 13 people without a visible means of support? His apostles weren't making any money - they'd given up their "day jobs" to follow him. He didn't charge for his sermons or miracles. He never healed someone and then said, "Okay, that will be 30 shekels please." So how did he do it? The answer is simple. He allowed himself to receive. God provided what he needed (food, shelter, cash) and then he went ahead and took it! Whatever form the "gift" took; it was received. My mental light came on. Jesus received just as well as he gave. Jesus had his giving and receiving in balance. This was quite a personal revelation. Jesus was teaching about receiving as much as he was teaching about giving! I'd never considered this point of view before, and it took me a while to recover.

In 2012 I faced the challenges of cancer. I learned many lessons, but imagine my surprise when the very FIRST lesson was about receiving. I discovered two things. First, that many, many people care deeply about me and wanted to support my healing process. Second, these people had a deep need to give to me, not just to help me, but also as part of THEIR healing and growth.  As a result, I made a conscious effort to emulate Jesus, The Great Receiver, and accept the gifts offered by those around me; after all, accepting the gift honors the giver.