Reflecting on Receptivity

James 1by Mary E. Peterson, Heartbeat Housing Specialist

When we enter this world as an infant, we are completely receptive. We receive our being from God via our parents. We receive love, nourishment, and comfort at the hands of others. 

With wonder and awe, we slowly receive the whole of creation into our understanding—starting with our hands and feet and gradually extending outward to include all of our surroundings. 

I think of my young niece repeatedly and gleefully acclaiming with amazement in her voice, “It’s raining! It’s raining!“ She delights in the very existence of rain! It’s this receptive-state that Michael Naughton is pointing out when he says “As creatures, we are first receivers before we are givers.”[1]

As adult Christians, particularly as those involved in a  sacrificial kind of ministry, we think a lot about the holiness of and need for the giving part of love. Whether it’s attentive listening, providing for material needs, upholding a woman’s dignity, or providing a safe place to cry, we give deeply of ourselves to another, pouring ourselves out in love. 

Sacrificing. Emptying ourselves for the sake of another.

Because it is so evident that the giving part of love is beautifully holy, it is easy to fall into the error of thinking of the receiving part of love as selfish or as a mere strategy that allows us to keep giving.

What a subtle and dangerous error! Scripture teaches us otherwise. Consider Mary’s fiat “be it done onto me according to your Word” and Jesus’ invitation to become like children. Utter receptivity is holy!

As you think through your ministry, be sure to remember that loving includes both giving AND receiving. Just as you are called to give of your whole being, you are invited to receive with your whole being. 

From the God of all creation as well as the people in your life, receive deeply!

[1] Naughton, Michael. The Logic of Gift: Rethinking Business as a Community of Persons. Marquette University Press. Milwaukee, WI. 2012.