Giving makes you feel good about yourself. You are the one in control. You get the praise and recognition.
Receiving is just that: receiving. You can't control it. You don't get the credit. You are the one in a vulnerable position. And if you're prideful like me, you will feel indebted no matter how small the gesture and/or how many times you say thanks.
It's for these reasons I try not to put myself in situations where I have to ask for help. This may be disguised as independence, strength, or self-sufficiency, but really it is just sin. A.W. Tozer refers to them as "self-sins": self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, self-admiration, etc. I experience all of these and more when I do things on my own and start to believe that I don't ever need help from anyone else.
This morning I had to take Makai to the other side of the city for his 4-month vaccinations, which involved a bus and a metro ride in rush hour traffic. I always have to psych myself up for public transportation with babies and/or a toddler because it will most likely involve awkward moments of waiting for someone to help me find a seat, carry a stroller up stairs, or help me lift the stroller from the bus down to the pavement of the bus stop. I remember the first time I learned that not all metro stations have elevators; Coen was too small to walk up the steps on his own and too big for me to carry him in the stroller. So I waited at the bottom of the steps, feeling powerless and pitiful, until a charitable stranger offered to help me carry him up.
In spite of my prideful aversion to asking for help, it always leaves me a better person. Anything that produces humility and gratitude in me is something I always need more of.
This morning I watched a FULL i08 bus fly by the bus stop, crammed too tightly to offer any more commuters an open door. Right around the time I began wondering what I should do since we clearly were not going to fit on one anytime soon (not to mention without squishing Makai in the Ergo) a smiling woman helped me up the back door of the next one. I was immediately offered a seat (this is a luxury on a packed bus) by a boy in a high school uniform. The woman continued to hold my diaper bag for me because it is livianita, even though I was the one with extra space.
An older man held my arm to help me off the bus and I made my way down to the metro. I thought that since we were so far outside of the city that the crowd wouldn't be so bad, but I was wrong. I stumbled to find a hanging loop to grab on to when I heard an old man shout "Can anyone please give up their seat? There is a woman with a baby." (Side note: This kind of thing used to embarrass me; now after 2 pregnancies and 2 babies I am way used to it and so thankful!) A woman offered me her seat as another helped me keep my balance on the moving train.
I don't know any of these people, but I am grateful for their kindness and the truths God speaks to me through their actions.
It reminds me that people are good. That in a world full of evil actions, we are all still made in the image of God. That people do want to help. And if they don't, they must be going through something on their own.
It reminds me that I am not supposed to do it on my own. We were created for community, for leaning on another, for needing God and having that need met through the actions of friends and strangers.
How is it possible to give grace to others when we refuse to receive it ourselves?
How can we feel deep, life-changing good gratitude when we never put ourselves in a position to need grace?
Years of self-sufficiency and independence can lead to a scary facade that we can do it all on our own. It can make us calloused to the grace God gives us. It will lead us further from gratitude and humility, the very things of Jesus.