People Pleasers and Gracious Receivers

Is there anyone else out there who has this problem: someone in your family, or among your friends, or at your place of work, or in your church, does something for you that they think will please you, but it has just the opposite effect?

Let me illustrate: your friend is going to the grocery store and asks if she can pick up anything for you.  You answer, “Yes, thank you. I need some garlic – the loose bulbs, not the packaged kind. I’ll pay you when you get back.”

Your friend returns later without the garlic, because she couldn’t find it in the produce section. But she hands you a bag of onions.

You just bought a bag of onions yesterday and your friend was with you when you made the emergency run to the convenience store. The kind of onion she bought today is not the kind you prefer; they are yellow onions and you like the sweeter taste of the Vidalia onion. You mentioned that to her yesterday when you had to buy the bag of yellow onions because the soup you were making for dinner needed onions and  it was already 5:00 PM, so you didn’t have time to drive to the grocery store.

Your friend says, “They were on sale and I know that you use lots of onions in your soups, and they are organic, you don’t have to pay me, they’re a gift from me.”

Now, if you’re like me, you appreciate sales, especially on organic produce, and you like free stuff. But you don’t need or want more onions of any kind at this time. You have experience with onions that have been around for too long, some of the rings in the onion get mushy and they rot.

How would you handle this scenario?

I actually found myself in this situation recently.

Where I should have felt grateful, I didn’t. I had all I could do to not say something that wound sound ungrateful, let alone thanking my friend for her thoughtfulness. Plus, garlic is what I needed at the time.

Honestly, I felt kind of irritated. I was being put in the spot of expressing gratitude for something for which I felt no gratitude. Maybe I didn’t want to feel like I owed her? This seems to be happening to me more frequently recently. What’s up?

What I felt like saying was something like, “Please don’t buy me things unless you know I want them.” Or, “Well, since I already bought onions yesterday, maybe YOU could use these YELLOW ONIONS yourself; I prefer Vidalia, remember?” Said sweetly, of course; not in a mean way.

I’m not going to tell you what I actually said, except for “Thanks”. I’m a little embarrassed about my not overwhelmingly gracious response. I have a hard time faking gratitude – it’s always been a struggle for me.

I wrestled with the situation after my friend left. I prayed about it. I don’t want to be an ungrateful person. And I don’t want to discourage people from trying to do nice things for me.

I asked the Lord to help me learn something from these on-going encounters. Remember when the Israelites were in the desert and didn’t get the lessons God was trying to teach them? It was “Okay, guys . . . one more time around the mountain.” (Deut. 1:34-45)

As I laid it before the Lord, a light clicked on in my head. There are three things I sensed the Lord showing me:

  • First, He reminded me of the Scripture that says: “Be thankful for everything.” (Eph. 5:20) Maybe this was a test from the Lord?

Or maybe the Lord had my friend buy the organic yellow onions for me because He knows I’ll be making lots of soup during this fall season and those who eat it won’t care what kind of onion I use. Or maybe someone else will need onions and now I have plenty to share?

Being thankful before figuring things out is an expression of trust in God, that He indeed oversees the circumstances of my life.

  • Second, how about when I think of blessing someone else?  Maybe I should ask them what I can do to bless them and not just do what I think will bless them?

Perhaps this is one of the explanations for many failed evangelistic efforts. Maybe our Gospel presentation is not reaching our neighbor, or our co-worker, or our family member, because they don’t see the need for what we’re offering them.

How can we expect people to be respond positively when we share God’s “plan of salvation” with them if they don’t think they need it? We have to first connect with them at the point of their “felt need,” even though we know their “real need” is a relationship with God through Jesus.

  • Third, I wonder how often we offer our words or works to God and expect Him to be pleased when what we’re saying or doing is not what He wants us to say or do?

Is our Heavenly Father sometimes frustrated with us because we don’t ask Him before we enter into a flurry of activity that may have nothing to do with His desire for us? Busying ourselves with things – even good things – that have little or nothing to do with His best plan for us – activities that crowd-out intimate time with Him?

How can it bless our Father when we give the best part of our time and energy to what we think might please Him or what makes us feel good about ourselves, when what He really wants is to share His heart with us and to reveal His love to us.

I wonder if He ever feels like saying, “It’s nice that you spend so much time feeding the poor and cleaning the church building, but that’s not what I had in mind for you today. It would please me more if you would first spend time with me and get your marching orders from me.”

Jesus said he only spoke what the Father told him to say (John 12:49) and only did what he saw the Father doing (John 5:19). If Jesus sought his Father’s instructions for what he should say and do, shouldn’t we?

Anyway, I’m ever learning, and with God’s help I eventually come to the knowledge of His truth. He’s teaching me to be a considerate giver and a gracious receiver (ouch!).

How about you?  Is God trying to get you to be “other” focused both in giving and in receiving? What’s God saying to you about your attitude of gratitude?


©2011, Marcy Alves

Photo by: David C. Alves


About Marcy

I love my Father-God. Together we are walking through a season of my life where I am standing with him against cancer. He is my strength and trust. As one of his daughters, my passion is to share his love with others in practical, everyday illustrations and insights.

Posted on October 6, 2011, in Christian Growth, Follow Me, God Encounters, Reflections, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I like that…be a “considerate giver” and a “gracious receiver” …definitely something to ponder. Thank you!

  2. I too have experienced this and I still go through it at times. I must say that getting my way as a child ( being a daddy’s girl and all ) and somewhat being the goody 2 shoes of my siblings had it’s perks but I must say that I respected boundaries and didn’t take my parents kindness for granted. If they knew by my facial expression or me speaking up about not liking particular type of clothing then they didn’t buy. They allowed me to choose. No feelings were hurt thank goodness. But this is where my gratitude had to kick in more: becoming a mother myself and being thankful for the not so pretty things my kids made or bought for me. This includes my husband too! I never like to hurt someone’s feelings intentionally and I accidentally did it to my youngest daughter who is VERY sensitive. From that point, I learned to be more thankful and considerate of what was given to me simply because someone thought enough of me to extend themselves and gift me. And you are right, we could use that gift to gift another or use at a later period. Then again, it could just be a teaching lesson about gratitude from the Lord. Oh how He can humble our hearts! I pray that you continue to seek the Lord and pray when you come to these not so comfortable moments. I know I have to. Words or the lack thereof can wound a heart if we aren’t careful.

    Bless you…. I know everything will be ok. We live and learn. It’s all about growing. 🙂

    ( )
    Living Simply In Abundance

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