She handed me two unripe mangos her family had picked earlier that day from trees that were not ready.
hot tears were dripping off her cheeks onto the cool, concrete floor of that small house. In my broken Spanish, I had asked her how she was & she opened her heart to me like she had opened her home.
“My husband’s motorcycle is broken, so he can’t go to work. We don’t have money for food. All we have is these unripe mangos.”
She didn’t want help, only prayer.
So, I did.
But before I left, she handed me those mangos.
I really had no need or desire for them & I didn’t want to accept them, but she insisted & in the Dominican culture, you don’t reject a gift.
I kissed her “thank you,” & dropped the mangos in my bookbag where they fell in place next to my Bible.
I walked out of the house & the face of my heart fell in the dirt.
Her young family was starving, yet she chose generosity. I’d just received the priceless gift of sacrifice.
It’s said, “in giving, we receive,” but I’ve grown to think that, sometimes, in receiving, we give.
When we only give, we control what & how much is given. It usually doesn’t make us admit our humanness. In fact, our put-togetherness seems to be measured by how much we give.
But when we receive, the situation is out of our control. We accept the best (or worst) gifts with gratitude & that makes us vulnerable, doesn’t it? To say a genuine “thank you” for something we don’t want or need is letting the tables of the relationship be turned–some might even call it debt.
But vulnerability is not debt.
When we are vulnerable enough to receive, others are accepted at the cost of our own pride.
In the same way,
receiving Christ costs us our lives, our right to control; it requires us to admit our need & enables us to humbly give Him thanks.
We find the faces of our hearts pressed against the dirt in gratitude.
Because, sometimes, saying “thank you” is the most we can give back.
So, receive the sacrifice. Live vulnerable to the gift-giver. Feel the dirt of gratitude on your face.
For in receiving sour mangos, I’m learning the thankfulness of giving my life.
(photo: mango juice-stained pages of my Bible, a daily reminder to first receive.)