There he stood, scrubbing so diligently, making sure not to miss a single spot. Farther and farther along the floor he went until any possible mess was gone. The floor was sparkling clean, and my boyfriend had the biggest smile on his face. He was so happy to have served me. Yet, something inside me was stirring. I couldn’t quite identify the feeling — was it guilt? Embarrassment? It was hard to say. Whatever it was, it was hard. That’s right, folks — someone was doing something nice for me and it was a challenge to accept it.
Before this whole floor-cleaning thing had begun, I was determined to do it myself. I wouldn’t let another person clean up after me because that would be weird. However, a confident, determined, and calm man assured me that I shouldn’t block him from blessings. That sentiment really caused me to pause and think.
Was I actually preventing others in my life from receiving blessings because I wasn’t willing to accept help? It was as though the Spirit slapped me across the face. Yes, I was being stubborn! Not just in that moment, but in several moments. Even when I really needed help over the past year, for a moment I could remember several times when I had completely denied people the chance to serve or be kind.
This led me to think of times when I had with sincerity approached friends or family members to help them in some small way. Some had allowed me to do so and it had really made my day brighter. Others followed my own pattern of behavior and stood in the way of those moments. I can understand the latter better than I care to admit, but switching roles was eye-opening for me.
I invite you to stop and take an inventory as well. When was the last time someone complimented or served you? How did you react? Did you say thank you? Did you brush off their comment and say something good about them? What about when someone did something nice for you like sending a gift or participating in an act of service? What was your response then?
Then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf addressed this very topic in a Christmas devotional once. He talked about how good at receiving gifts children can be. They just eat them up and thank you so warmly and genuinely. He said:
“As we get older, however, our ability to receive gifts with the same enthusiasm and grace seems to diminish. Sometimes people even get to the point where they can’t receive a gift or, for that matter, even a compliment without embarrassment or feelings of indebtedness. They mistakenly think that the only acceptable way to respond to receiving a gift is by giving back something of even greater value. Others simply fail to see the significance of a gift—focusing only on its outward appearance or its value and ignoring the deep meaning it has to the sincere giver” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Good and Grateful Receiver,” December 2012 Christmas Devotional).
I believe that Elder Uchtorf is right: it does take grace to accept gifts, as well as remembering the focus of the giver. Since that moment, I have been trying to repent. There are times when I am better at it than others, but I have a renewed desire to receive compliments, gifts, etc. with more dignity and grace, and then to pay it forward in a different way on a different day either to that person or someone else.
After all, Elder Uchtdorf further reminds us:
“Every gift that is offered to us—especially a gift that comes from the heart—is an opportunity to build or strengthen a bond of love. When we are good and grateful receivers, we open a door to deepen our relationship with the giver of the gift. But when we fail to appreciate or even reject a gift, we not only hurt those who extend themselves to us, but in some way we harm ourselves as well.”
Don’t we want to live surrounded by others in a strengthened bond of love? Don’t we desire to have deeper relationships, and to help and bless others rather than to hurt or cause pain? I believe that as we practice receiving kindness with grace, we can have all of those gifts that Elder Uchtdorf mentioned. We can one day be the person scrubbing the floor with a smile on our face.
Ashley Dewey is extremely talented at being single. Hobbies include awkward conversations with members of the opposite sex, repelling third dates, talking to boys about their girl problems and to girls about their boy problems. In her spare time she also has a very fulfilling school life, work life, and social life. Besides being a professional single, Ashley is also a BYU graduate with a degree in linguistics (Aka word nerd). She enjoys studying other languages, particularly American Sign Language, and finds most all of them fascinating. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. Ashley works most of the time and has often been accused of being a workaholic. Currently she works full time as a merchandiser and supervisor in a retail store, and part time doing social media work. On her day off she works (really it doesn't feel like work) in the Provo LDS temple. The only kind of work she finds difficulty focusing on is house work. Her favorite activities in her free time are reading, writing, creating social experiments, and spending time with great friends and family. Specific activities with those family and friends include: going to concerts, plays, dance recitals, BYU basketball and football games, and watching sports on television.