tow people's hands giving towards one another

Good Gift Giving (and Receiving) is Like Breathing

Good gift giving (and receiving) is like breathing. Breathing in-and-out is a handy physical reminder of how I would like to give and receive with loved ones: more naturally, regularly, and with loving ease. I must admit, I’m not as graceful in giving or receiving love as I would like.


I breathe in and it pushes life into the smallest of places within my body. Small pockets of oxygen are ushered to each cell; these small gifts feeding shut-ins I will never see. On the exhale, I flood a small radius in front of me with a mix of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. It diffuses into the rest of the world around me. Putting it to good use, every green-living thing recycles my giving into something new. They give back to me in a natural, unrushed way. We go on in this beneficial, silent exchange.


What if this process was as easy with people?


A friend gifted me a beautiful glass jar of creamed honey over Christmas. The only problem was, I had nothing to give her in return. This filled me with anxious vulnerability I hoped she did not notice in the micro moments of our exchange. It felt like an eternity, as I fought the immediate urge to run to the store for a clearly equal exchange, or come up with a somewhat lame yet viable excuse. I sat still.


I knew in my anxiousness my goals to be: genuine, thankful, and thoughtful would be blown. So, instead, I allowed myself to squirm under the vulnerability of receiving from another. The anxious feeling rumbled through my stomach like a small, dark thunder cloud. It didn’t take long and it disappeared. I silently reasoned: she wasn’t giving to me to receive; she was just giving.
I was then able to genuinely receive the gift.


I let the air around us fill with her generosity.


I opened my heart and truly received. On the exhale, I breathed a sincere thank you.

  • Like breathing, gift giving should never be an equal exchange. (e.g. It would be silly for me to run over and cut my neighbor’s grass just after he helped me because my husband was out of town.)
  • Rushing to match the gift is a disservice to the giver.
  • Our genuine receiving brings joy to the gift giver. (Why would we want to take this pleasure from them?)
  • Sometimes a genuine thank you is enough.
  • A refusal to receive is a refusal to being loved.
  • We all have different gifts to give and interests to share. Our differences brighten up peoples’ worlds in different ways. (See 1 Corinthians 12 for more encouragement on being different for special purpose.)
  • The best gifts are thoughtful and thoughtfulness takes time.


I gave myself time to think about how to gift my friend. It wasn’t immediate and it wasn’t honey. She already had honey.

Read More on Vulnerability


The work of Brene’ Brown, in her book: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead really encouraged me to view vulnerability as a relationship-strength and not a weakness. As I embrace my own vulnerability, I become the woman I always desired and also build the relationships I had always longed for.