On Being Gracious

Many years ago, a friend and I were talking about how hard it was for us to accept compliments from others – saying things like, “Oh, you didn’t have to!” or “This old rag?” or “I’m really not that awesome” in response to kindness.

This past Sunday, our church’s pastor talked about how it can be difficult for us to be gracious in receiving and that “we should never deny someone the opportunity to be a blessing” with their words or actions.

The conversation with the friend meandered into stories of my mother, Pauline, who had a knack for not being able to say “thank you” in a gracious manner when someone offered a gift or compliment. Mom even chastised me once for bringing my father a gift. It was dad’s birthday. I gave him the gift and ignored mom.

Mom was not always good at being gracious in receiving, not for herself or in substituting for her husband.

In talking about this, the friend and I made a pact. We would not refuse a compliment of any kind from each other. We would accept gifts politely. If either of us responded with non-acceptance in the future, we would give the other one a look and firmly state,

“Just say thank you, Pauline!”

We kept to our pact. It became a thing and the thing turned into habit. We both had to say the line once or twice before it really sunk in and we diligently practiced the gracious “thank you.”

It truly changed the way I react to compliments and gifts, to this day. They are accepted and embraced, which usually makes the giver happy.

Our pastor stated during his message that “we’ve negatively associated receiving with weakness, a misguided sense of humility, and an overactive sense of reciprocity.”Β 

Can anyone raise a hand to that? Especially the feeling that we’re not all that and a bag of chips or the thought we must give the giver something in return because how dare we receive something and not give back?

Been there, done that. It’s hard being gracious, but you can do it.

Dear readers, you are so worthy of compliments – the ones that tell you how awesome you are, how you look swell in that suit or red dress, how you have a beautiful spirit, how your most recent post is the best thing since sliced bread, or how it’s wonderful to be your friend. Accept compliments graciously, along with the special gifts that you don’t always expect.

Pastor Shawn’s final words on Sunday included something very simple. “Be gracious in receiving from someone; allow yourself to be the person on the mat for a change.”

You do not have to deny or give anything in return.

Except for a heartfelt thank you.

This post has been brought to you by a thank you and Linda Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday. If you are wondering what One-Liner Wednesday is all about, CLICK HERE.

Linda G. Hill is the Queen of One-Liners and rules over her kingdom of followers. Check out today’s post and commit yourself to join the Queen’s one-liner army because there’s no fighting or blood, only comradery and fun with words.

39 responses to On Being Gracious

  1. Dan Antion says:

    You are awesome! This is a really good post, and something we should remember, It’s really weird how our brains can mess things up. Have a wonderful Wednesday Mary!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks and you’re welcome. Next time, Judy, remember my mother. Invoke the name of Pauline with a big hearty thank you!

      • My Mom was insecure about receiving a gift, saying thank you or expressing it wasn’t quite right. Generation thing? Anyway, in later years when she had an apartment in our home, I’d come home and the gift would be on the kitchen counter. At that point, I’d get the message that she either couldn’t use it or something was wrong with it. πŸ™‚

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Oh boy, your mom must have been a tough one at Christmas or on her birthday. I have never completely understood why my mom felt it necessary to discount the act of receiving instead of smiling and saying thank you. I found in smiling and saying thank you (and nothing else) it actually brings me joy, as well as the giver. It’s a win-win scenario.

  2. loisajay says:

    It is hard for me NOT to roll my eyes and be almost embarrassed to accept something and say, thank you. But, thank you for this, Mary.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Oh, Lois, try being different next time. No eye rolling, just two sparkly little eyeballs that smile and say thanks. Just do it. You’ll be surprised that nothing awful happens. πŸ˜‰

      By the way, Lois, you rock at being a cat mom and blogging buddy.

  3. Mary J, I’m terrible about taking compliments too — and I’ve been told similar things. LOL, and then when I tried just saying “Thank you,” someone criticized me for saying it too sincerely. o_O But the good news it, the older I get, the fewer compliments I have to deal with. Hugs!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been criticized for being too sincere in my thanks. Never mind that person, start and keep practicing “thanks” with whatever compliments and gifts you receive. Remember the Pauline! :-p

  4. Shelley says:

    I’ve been there done that, and once I changed my responses to align with what you’ve described above, it has been a life changer for me! Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts about the beauty of gratitude! xx

    • bikerchick57 says:

      It really makes a difference, doesn’t it Shelley? Instead of feeling bad about yourself in receiving, it brings a warm feeling of happiness. Isn’t that the intended purpose of the compliment or gift?

      • Shelley says:

        Yes, exactly! It wasn’t a modeled response for me growing up, and I’m fearful that I spread that to my kids, but I hope now they’ll see me being gracious instead…there’s hope their brains are still forming and we’re never too old to learn new ways to embrace gratitude!

  5. Laura says:

    Oh my, this is perfect. Gracious acceptance is SO HARD. Can’t speak to men but I found I’ve been conditioned over the years to downplay, brush aside, share the spotlight, deflect — how hard is it to just say “thank you”? Pretty hard, apparently. Thanks for the reminder today!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      It’s hard at first, Laura. But the more you keep doing it – just saying thanks with no self-berating – the easier it gets and the better you feel. Truly. Graciousness=smiles!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      That was a nice, fun post of compliments and zombies. Thank you for your positive comments and thanks to your mom for being so gracious!

  6. Joanne Sisco says:

    Guilty, guilty, guilty. Why do we do that?!!

    Thank you for the wake-up call. I love it when someone is thrilled with a gift or a compliment I gave them and I need to practice the same … without squirming with embarrassment.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Stop squirming, Joanne! You don’t need to. I remember a time when I was not gracious an my giver asked, “Don’t you like getting compliments?” He seemed put off instead of being glad from a more positive response. Perhaps if we think more of the giver’s intent and feelings rather than worrying about ourself, it would help us to easily say thanks.

  7. dweezer19 says:

    This is so true, Mary. I love that pact. I hate when I feel someone doesn’t believe I an sincere in my compliment or gift.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      It’s really not a good idea to reject someone’s kindness, especially when it’s honest and heartfelt. Thanks for your comment and hope you are having a wonderful day.

  8. An incredible post, filled with love, honesty and a valuable message.
    I’m useless when it comes to accepting compliments and get all red faced and embarrassed, never knowing quite what to say.

    But … I too will now join in your promise, and . . .
    I Promise You Faithfully Mary, that I will . . .
    Just Say Thank You! from this moment forward.

    Love you for so many reasons, and now I add this post and it’s message to the pile.
    Sending love and squidges to you, my fabulous blogging friend ~ Cobs. xxx

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Cobs, some day we really have to meet so that I can give you hugs/squidges in person. Thank you for the lovely comment and your promise to simply say “thanks.” Because you’re worth it, you know. Totally worth it. The thank you’s will come easier with time and you’ll begin to feel joy rather than embarrassment.
      Love and hugs to you, Ms. Fabulous! ❀

  9. marianallen says:

    I used to have a boss who had a habit that struck me as both charming and instructive. Anytime anybody did anything for him–even our job!–or gave him something, he would said, “Thank you! How kind!” It taught me how to be gracious in receiving a compliment, because he accepted with grace and gave one back, and how could I do anything except accept it with grace equal to his? It was good practice. πŸ™‚

    • bikerchick57 says:

      What a wonderful boss and role model for you and all of his employees. I may take a lesson away from this in adding “how kind” to my thank you’s. Thanks for sharing that story, Marian.

  10. Laurie says:

    Yes, why is being gracious so difficult? Why is it so hard to accept a compliment? I agree with you “Just say thank you”! Great advice and so simple!

  11. joey says:

    That is a very interesting food for thought kinda thing. I really like this. Excellent ministry. I was SO that way when I was … well, up until my late 30s when my therapist brought it up. I thought of it as being humble.Therapist talked about diminishing light. Someone sees you shining, shines a light on you, you wanna shine it back, not with reciprocity, but with light. If you don’t shine it back with thanks, you may as well toss a lit match into water. You diminish their light. You’re saying this thing they noticed about you is not worth anything to you.
    I need to work on accepting my husband’s compliments. He’s too charming and I suspect flattery. I cannot be THAT spectacular πŸ˜‰

    • bikerchick57 says:

      But Joey, you ARE that spectacular! Enjoy the Mister’s flattery, as I’m sure it’s warranted. Accept his light along with everyone else’s. πŸ™‚

  12. Thank you for raising this strange way some of us have. Having been raised in modesty by the Church, I, too, was once guilty of such behavior.

    Thanks for the follow πŸ™‚

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