Giving to the giver


23 Mar 2016
I’m well loving Easter this year… It’s just really special this time around for some reason. As Lent drew to an end and I entered Holy Week, I was relishing this time of the year more than ever. I work as a youth minister in a parish, and I’m finding myself inspired and touched by the gift of young people, their insights, and our faith.
I was also reflecting a lot about life and the ways in which I love. In the book ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman (and the various spin-offs of the same title), the ways in which individuals give and receive love are outlined. They way the book is written is instructive, and shows why we often don’t appreciate people’s love for us or indeed, see our own value in the lives of others. Chapman explains that for some people, their love language is to give gifts, whereas others use words of affirmation, and others communicate through physical touch.
I realised through my reflections that I find it way easier to show love through gifts than to allow others to do the same for me.
On my way to dropping a mate home I stopped to get petrol. My inner Little Miss Independent struggled big time when they jumped out to fill my car up with petrol. However, I kind of graciously accepted their kindness with only a few thinly-veiled comments about how I was capable of doing it myself and a few awkward giggles.
The real kicker however came when it was time to pay.
Now I don’t even like people shouting me a coffee unless I know that I can return the gesture in the near future, so imagine my surprise when it turned out they had beaten me to the cashier!!
Now my Little Miss Independent came out fighting… literally!
Instead of being gracious and thanking my friend appropriately for being so kind and generous I slapped them on the arm and said ‘I can’t believe you did that!’.
To be honest, I still haven’t actually thanked them properly, but now thinking back on it, I realised that they actually gave me two gifts because they made me take a whole new look at Holy Week.
I realised that I need to start learning how to graciously accept others gestures of love for me so that I might truly accept the ultimate gesture of love, Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. So, it’s time to quieten Little Miss Independent down a bit and start letting others do for me that which I am so happy and willing to do for others.
In my job, it is almost a given that I am the giver/the one who ministers or leads. I have learned however, that joyful receiving, the humble reception, the laying down of ego, even unto death, is what I am being called to.
Steph Unger is a musician and parish youth minister based in Brisbane, Australia.
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