Dear International Worker, Receive. Part 2.
Here is the rest of my Post on Receiving, Thanks for reading! ❤ Chrissy
- Demonstrates the truth that I have something to learn. I don’t know everything about life in my host country, no matter how long I’ve been here. Listening well and receiving new ideas from people in my community, especially when it comes to daily life or projects we’re working on together, encourages mutual respect and trust. Also, my quality of life here will improve as I learn from others the most effective ways to live and work within the cultural context. Another blessing of receiving well is that everyone can benefit from the best parts of their own culture and mine as we work together— learning, listening, giving, and receiving. In my host culture, there are believers in Christ who have spent their lives here, working faithfully, long before I arrived and they will be here after I leave; so I must think of everything the Scriptures teach about working together and showing honor. I must learn. I must receive in the hope that the work we accomplish together might be more lasting and relevant.
- Affirms the value of the giver as a fellow image bearer. When others have the genuine desire to give to me, they are demonstrating love. They want to help me and add value to my life. Have you ever wanted to give to someone and been refused because of their pride or because they feel guilty receiving help from “someone like you?” It hurts, whether it’s meant to or not. The rejection feels personal. Whether a big or small gift, offering something of yourself and being refused stings. I don’t want to do that to anyone else. It communicates to the giver what they are offering has no value in my estimation—that anything he or she has to give could not possibly add value to my life. People matter, so receiving the offer of time together, new ideas, a meal in someone’e home, other gifts, etc., is important. What he or she has to offer is valuable because we all have significance as image bearers of God. The deepest relationships I’ve made across cultures involve mutual giving and receiving. We value each other and share what God is doing in our lives. We truly feel the other has something significant to contribute to life and work, and this can be seen in the way we give and receive in the relationship.
- Can be tricky, so I must learn acceptable ways to Give & Receive in my Host Culture. Appropriate ways to give and receive vary from one cultural context to another. Learn what it means to give and receive graciously in your host country so you don’t accidentally create barriers or cause offense. For example, in our host country, in new relationships, we are learning that receiving a gift sometimes means we need to give a gift back soon after. Giving should not be elaborate because it obligates the receiver to give something even more elaborate. Conversation and time together seem to be valued more than material gifts. We are learning about the best ways to give and receive here, and what we are communicating to others through the manner and timing of both.
A few more thoughts…
Being a believer in Christ & an International Worker doesn’t mean I own the corner of the market on compassion and giving. All people are created in the image of God, so why should it be surprising that His image bearers have the capacity to show compassion and help others? Every person- regardless of whether he has believed in Christ— possesses potential for kindness or causing harm. I am not the only one with value. I am not the only one with something to give to the world.
The Scriptures are full of situations where non-believers helped others. And it wasn’t because “Christians were not working hard enough.” There was nothing to be ashamed of or worried about. God’s plan had not gone off the rails. God worked through people who didn’t believe in Him to accomplish His purposes. He created humans with the capacity to do good. I’ve heard before that Christians “should be ashamed” when non-believers seem to be helping others—as if Christians are the only people who can be counted worthy of giving meaningful help to the world. I don’t agree. Humanity was created with that ability. Jesus received food, gifts, and shared life with those who were His followers and with those who were not. He shared life with all kinds of people. The Good News of Him is for everyone, so we are free to receive and share life with everyone around us.
We are Christ’s ambassadors and we have the privilege of sharing the gospel, but we are not the only ones who can demonstrate love in meaningful ways. As I shared in Part 1 of this entry, on a day when I was literally out of strength, God answered my prayer for help by sending people who were Agnostic, Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu to meet my needs. And it didn’t make me feel uneasy. I was grateful. Receiving their help allowed our relationships to deepen. We realized a little more that we’re not so different from each other in our humanity. That we all need help and we all need Hope. It would have been the height of arrogance for me to refuse their friendship and help because they did not know Jesus.
Today my heart was warmed when I read about Jesus telling Zacchaeus He wanted to spend time at his house that day. The “righteous” people were worried about it, but Jesus reminded everyone that people like Zacchaeus were why He came. People like me—who were separated from relationship with God and lost from everything He created them to be. People in disobedience and sin. Without Him, that’s all of us.
I want to live in the truth that People Matter. God’s image bearers matter to Him. I want to share conversation, life, time, food and genuine relationships with the people God has placed around me. I want to appreciate and love people for who they are. I want to be faithful and wise in how I share Christ. I want to know the best way to work alongside believers in my host country. I love giving and helping in meaningful ways. I’m sure you do too. We’re meant to give. But in my life and work here, the way I share life with others and receive from them also affects everything. It communicates so much.
Thinking through this has been a good reminder for me as I start over—learning to speak a new language (again) and learning what life means in a new place (again). It’s a humbling process. Our family continues to receive a kind welcome from our new community and blessings from new, growing relationships. I want God to help me honor these relationships and the measure of trust that has been given by receiving well.
“Giving feels fantastic and for there to be a Giver, there must be a Receiver, so allowing yourself to receive is an act of love.”
― Rebecca O’Dwyer
“Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving…. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.”
― Alexander McCall Smith
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we’re never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”
― Brené Brown