“Every gift that is offered to us—especially a gift that comes from the heart—is an opportunity to build or strengthen a bond of love. When we are good and grateful receivers, we open a door to deepen our relationship with the giver of the gift. But when we fail to appreciate or even reject a gift, we not only hurt those who extend themselves to us, but in some way we harm ourselves as well.” –Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
A few years ago, I had a good friend text me and ask what flavor of milkshake I would like. We hadn’t previously discussed her getting me a milkshake in any way. The text surprised me, yet she insisted on bringing me one, so I begrudgingly told her a flavor. I quickly tried to muster up a few dollars in my cashless purse before she arrived. When she kindly handed me my treat, I handed over the money. She politely declined. So, I politely insisted. Then she said something that has stuck with me ever since, “Just let me do something nice for you!”
I have been in her shoes; wanting to serve a family member or friend out of love, only to have them decline unless able to compensate. It’s almost like a slap in the face. Why do we have such a hard time accepting love and kindness from our neighbors? It might come from one of the following reasons.
1. It makes us look weak.
Many people have a hard time accepting kindness if they don’t “need” it. They think that it should go to someone who needs it more. But accepting kindness doesn’t make you weak. It actually takes strength and grace to sincerely receive help.
2. We don’t want to inconvenience others.
You never know the intentions of someone who shows you kindness. It’s easy to automatically assume that it’s a burden for them. So what if it is? Is it our place to judge, or to show gratitude? More often than not, people actually want to make you happy.
3. We get hung up on perfectionism.
When we accept kindness or service from others, it’s probably not done exactly how we would have done it. The best example I can think of is the dishwasher. No one loads the dishwasher right. You are the only one who does it “right.” It’s not important how kindness is given, only that it is given—and how it’s received.
4. We feel unworthy and have difficulty recognizing our self-worth.
Focus on the intention and love of the giver that motivated their act of kindness. If someone loves you and wants to serve you, it’s not your place to deny them those blessings.
Accepting kindness is accepting that you are worthy of it; a notion that many of us struggle with. If we let self-doubt run the show, kindness will automatically bounce off of us and we’ll be left feeling that we’re not good enough. Start telling yourself that you are worthy and eventually you might start to believe it. When someone shows you kindness, accept it, because you know that you are worth of it. Everyone is.
5. We have too much pride.
Pride could envelop all of the previous points. Pride sets us in opposition to each other and God. Pride leads us to set ourselves above those around us, placing our own thoughts and desires above anything and anyone else.
The good news is that we can change. We can start accepting kindness today, right now.
6. We’d rather give than receive.
We are taught that we are more blessed to give than to receive. It’s ingrained in us all that we start to believe that we are not blessed to receive; that there’s something wrong with it. But are we not all beggars? Everything we have comes from the Lord.
There are two sides to service: giving and receiving. We should always be focused on giving, but we should also learn to accept blessings gratefully. There cannot be one without the other. It might just be more difficult to be a gracious receiver than a generous giver.
7. We might be wary of intentions.
Sincere kindness doesn’t come with strings attached. You don’t owe anyone who gives you a compliment or serves you in some way. Sometimes people are kind because they want to be kind. Instead of immediately trying to argue or uncover their ulterior motives, just take the compliment at face value. Even if you don’t believe the kind words sent your way, simply say, “Thank you.”
You can’t receive eternal life without receiving what Jesus Christ offers.
The greatest act of kindness in the history of the world was the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What would happen if we didn’t accept it? I know this may seem like an extreme comparison, but it’s not far off. We can’t become like Him if we don’t accept Him and His sacrifice. It’s essential for us to learn to become gracious receivers because it is only through receiving Jesus Christ’s Atonement, God’s grace, revelation from heaven, and the beautiful ordinances of salvation that we can attain eternal life.
Accepting and giving service lightens our load, and in turn, lifts those who serve us. It’s time for kindness to be a part of your every-day life. Accept it when it comes, and give it when you can. It will make you, and everyone around you, shine a little brighter.
Lead image from Getty Images
Becky Squire is a wife, mother, dreamer, writer, runner, and cheesecake-maker. Her husband is her soul-mate and complete opposite. They have four amazing kids who keep them humble . . . and tired. When Becky isn't writing, she can be found running in the mountains of Northern Utah. Connect with Becky on her blog, beckysquire.com.