Tonight's First Presidency Christmas Devotional was the best I've ever heard. I loved it all. Especially the recorder solo, with my flautist daughter Emily complaining that recorders are NOT flutes. I came away with several bit-lits of stuff to work on/chew on/do.
The most changing idea for me was about being a gracious receiver. Immediately I thought about my friend Ayako, whose rolls are celestial food. sigh. She let me know last night that she would be bringing some by, and I dutifully protested. I wasn't sick or depressed, nor my family. What could I do in exchange for these rolls? She just wanted to be nice, and wouldn't I please just let her? Ayako, I promise I won't protest any more but I will graciously receive with gladness! President Uchtdorf also talked about how receiving helps us feel closer to the Lord and feel of His love. I learned that lesson the hard way three years ago, when I broke my back. Family and my ward jumped right in and took care of us--for months. I felt of their love, and in that love and in their eyes, I saw the love of my Father in Heaven and my Savior. I knew how to give, but I didn't know how to receive GRACIOUSLY while in great need, and how that can change us, until then. Now that I am back on my feet, I haven't been as great at receiving "just because" or "birthday" love. I am always thankful, but also usually embarrassed and don't know how to behave. So does that mean I am uncomfortable being loved by people who aren't related to me? Maybe. Maybe I don't give people enough credit that they can give without expecting gifts in return. (Don't be offended, I just don't want to disappoint anyone).
How did we get this way? How did we start to feel like we absolutely had to be independent and that receiving assistance was weak? How did we get to thinking that we had to reciprocate immediately to avoid "owing" anyone? (tell me you haven't had extra "neighbor gifts" ready in case someone not on your normal giving list drops by with a plate of Christmas deliciousness to avoid looking mean or thoughtless) If I receive without protest, does it make people think that I think I am so much more specialer? I am not just being rhetorical, I really want to know. I am one of the worst of the above kind of thinking.
The story about the little girl's gift being so poorly received reminded me of how hard my sister and I tried to (unsuccessfully) give a gift to our paternal grandmother that would receive the same kind of praise that our cousins' gifts received. My mother taught us to be properly grateful and complimentary of gifts given to us. Even if it is "interesting", I never feel like I am being dishonest to gush about a gift, because I am actually gushing about the work and the intent and the love that went into it. Now if my children gave me something crafted out of styrofoam, I would feel free to drop it and punish them severely because they know darn well how much I hate the sound styrofoam makes and it would have been given with the intent to make me miserable and provoke laughter among partners in crime.
Also, it would so be a scientist who gives a little kid a barometer for Christmas!! Well played, though, because didn't that boy grow up to be an academic himself? Mike tried valiantly to make Hayden's first word be benzene. hahah. But he is considering careers in the sciences (ones without blood and bones).
So bring on the gifts, people! I will try to be ready! (not really--it will be hard to change). Also, please tell me if you have answers to my ponderings about how I got so messed up. About receiving. Not anything else. One problem at a time, please.