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Giving Yourself Permission To Receive
Are you someone who gives to so many others, yet you struggle to receive for yourself? Do you consider receiving help from others a sign of weakness? Maybe you feel uneasy and undeserving of someone else’s care for you. You’re not alone.
Most people are willing to make sacrifices and help others. Over the course of their lives, husbands and wives make many sacrifices for each other. Parents make huge sacrifices to see that their children and families are well-cared-for. Friends go out of their way to help their friends every day.
We have many in our society who have chosen professions or dedicated themselves to helping others heal such as doctors and nurses, first responders or counsellors and therapists. Most of their waking hours each day are spent focused on others.
You may have heard the saying “Physician, heal thyself”, or in Latin “Medice, cura te ipsum”. It’s an ancient proverb that highlights how people can be very good at helping others but often struggle to get help for themselves.
Jesus quoted this same proverb in Luke 4:23 when locals from his home region challenged him saying, “You’ve done miracles for so many others in surrounding cities, can’t you help those in your own hometown?” In quoting this proverb, Jesus also foreshadowed how one day he would be taunted this same way as those watching him die on the cross would say, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself.” (1)
It’s very human of us to struggle with helping ourselves. We don’t want to appear selfish or needy. We may even feel guilty about receiving help when so many others are in need.
Could this struggle be affecting our mental health and we don’t realize it? It seems many who struggle with mental and emotional health also struggle to receive help and care for themselves. Maybe some of us just struggle to receive in general. We would rather be the givers.
Jesus famously said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” Notice he didn’t say, “It’s more blessed to give and not receive.”(2) Jesus fully expected that we would give a lot and receive a lot. As we grow in our faith, we learn to be good receivers also.
By his own example, we see that Jesus wasn’t only giving out, he was also receiving. He received hospitality, lodging and transportation from others. He also received a gift of expensive perfume poured on his feet. (3)
To be emotionally and spiritually healthy means we give well and we receive well.
Giving and Receiving
Every spiritual connection and exchange involves both giving and receiving. Someone may give you a gift, but you must receive it to enjoy it. Our pastors may give a sermon on a Sunday, but we must receive the message to benefit from it. Jesus gave his life on a cross for us that we might have a relationship with God, but we must receive his gift of grace to spend eternity with him.
Every blessing God has given us in Christ must also be received. Look at any area of your life where it seems like you’ve hit a wall and need a breakthrough. Is it possible God has already given you the blessing but you’ve struggled to receive it?
Matthew 11:28 NLT:
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
This is one of the most comforting verses in the Bible. Jesus promises that if we come to him even with our heaviest baggage, he will lift it from us and give us rest. This is an amazing exchange:
- We come and give our burdens to him.
- He receives our burdens.
- He gives us his rest.
- We receive his rest.
Always remember that for the exchange to be complete we must actively and intentionally receive what God has given.
Maybe We Just Need Permission
Some people struggle with receiving because they aren’t sure if it’s okay or if they have permission to receive. Many Christians even struggle with whether something in the Bible is God’s will for them to receive.
It’s okay to seek permission. In fact, asking for and granting permission are both signs of honour and respect. When we study scripture to seek and better understand God’s will it actually helps us to receive because we come to understand and recognize what God has given us through his Word.
Here’s a simple and hopefully helpful tip: If the Bible says God has given you something or promises he will give you something, it means the promise is yours and you have permission to receive it.
Good news! We have permission!
However, even if God gives us permission to receive, there still could be one last barrier holding us back:
Have you given yourself permission to receive?
We can all think of a time where we received God’s forgiveness for something in the past but still found ourselves struggling to forgive ourselves. In the same way, we may have God’s permission to receive something but we haven’t given ourselves permission to receive it for ourselves.
For the sake of your own spiritual and mental health, here are four areas that need your permission:
1. Give yourself permission to admit your struggle. In a weekend message from Pastor Cheryl, “Three Ingredients to Healing Depression”, she said, “Admitting that you struggle doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a person.” When we admit and share our struggles with others it not only humanizes us, it’s often our first step toward receiving healing and wholeness. James 5:16 KJV says:
“Confess your faults to one another…that you may be healed.”
2. Give yourself permission to ask for help. We’ve all been riding in a car when we knew the driver was lost but they continued driving for miles (or kilometers) before stopping to ask for directions. Asking for help, advice or guidance is not an admission of defeat, it opens doors for us to receive something good or to get us back on track. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7 GNT:
“Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.”
Having a lifestyle of asking, seeking and knocking on doors keeps us in a position to receive better things and does wonders for our overall mental health. Refusing to ask for help only keeps us stuck in our struggle.
If you or someone you care about is at a critical point in their mental health and wellbeing and needs to ask for help, visit this website for resources.
3. Give yourself permission to fail. You are not going to be perfect. Cut yourself some slack. Just as you have been gracious to others who have failed, receive grace for yourself. The Apostle Paul, who might be one of history’s greatest perfectionists and achievers with an extensive resume of accomplishment (4), said in 2 Corinthians 11:30 and 12:9b CSB:
“If boasting is necessary, I will boast about my weaknesses…so that Christ’s power may reside in me.”
Recognizing where we are weak not only liberates us, it creates in us a dependency on God that allows for his grace and power to work in the area of our weakness. The areas where you are most weak and subject to failure could become your greatest strengths.
4. Give yourself permission for self-care. Self-care is a bit of a buzzword but to care for our whole person, spirit – soul – body is very biblical. God is interested in your whole being. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 MSG says:
“May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ…”
Jesus is currently involved in self-care when it comes to his body – the church. Ephesians 5:29 AMP says:
“For no one ever hated his own body, but instead he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…”
You have permission to be mindful of your own needs and to receive care for them. There are so many practical ways to self-care, from going for a walk to playing with a dog to turning off your phone, to putting your favourite song on repeat. Take time for yourself.
Remember, it’s important to receive and not just give. You have God’s permission to receive but you must also give yourself permission to receive.
Permission to Receive Grace
If you’ve never received the gift of God’s grace and forgiveness, I invite you to pray this prayer out loud:
“Dear God, I desire to be healthy and whole. I believe Jesus died on a cross and rose again for me. I come to exchange my baggage for his rest and peace. I put my trust in Jesus Christ to give me this rest and to make me a new person. Amen”
If you prayed this prayer, we would love to support you in this new life of faith. Click HERE for next steps.
Also, if the “Pray With A Pastor” button is visible on your screen, you may click now to pray with one of us and be encouraged in your next steps.
(1) Matthew 27:4
(2) Acts 20:35
(3) Luke 19:5-6, Luke 19:30-35, John 12:1-3
(4) Colossians 3:3-4