In Watch for the Light, William Willimon questions our ability to receive. He thinks that we are much more comfortable in the role of giving. He notes that the first thing we often do when given a gift is to want to give a gift in return...not necessarily out of love or kindness but...
We don't want to be indebted. The gift seems to lay a claim upon us... By giving us a gift, the person has power over us.
We to prefer to think of ourselves as givers - powerful, competent, self-sufficient, capable people whose goodness motivates us to employ some of our power, competence and gifts to benefit the less fortunate.
But in the story of Christmas, God has given to us in a way that we can never return payment and we don't know how to handle that. Again, Willimon says...
It's tough to be on the receiving end of love. God's or anybody else's... "Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace, " wrote John Wesley a long time ago.
This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn't need, which transform us into people we don't necessarily want to be.
This last quote is the most profound for me. Because we are so ingrained in our way of thinking and not in tune with God, his actions often seem foreign and even inappropriate, so we often reject them out right - barely giving them any consideration. (Hasn't this happened even in the Christmas story itself?)
This Advent I encourage you to receive the gift that God wants to give you - not the one that you think you need. What is it that he's been trying to give you (think character qualities or relationships) that you have resisted because that's just "not you". It's in receiving that gift and becoming the person he wants you to be that you will find peace and fulfillment.