I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts lately.
Maybe it’s because my love language is gifts. It brings me such joy to give gifts to those I love. Of course, I love to be surprised with gifts as well. These are not always a gift of wrapping paper and bows; sometimes they are a gift of a surprise dinner out or a cake brought to me by my husband just because he knows I love cake. I can’t unwrap these gifts, but they are exciting all the same.
Maybe it’s because in the span of two weekends I attended two showers–one a baby shower for my daughter and grandson, and the other a bridal shower for my soon to be daughter-in-law.
At both showers it was fun to watch the gifts being opened. As a child, I remember really looking forward to my birthday and Christmas morning. Every kid loves to get presents on those two days, and I was just like every kid. I was never one to peek before the actual day of gift giving arrived. My brother was, though, and on more than one occasion he ruined what was to be a fun surprise for me by revealing to me what he had found. I didn’t like to snoop because I enjoyed being surprised. I enjoyed the days leading up to the event, wondering what I would be opening when the big day arrived. Sometimes I could guess the contents of a gift package based on its size, shape, or the fact that I specifically asked for something. Many times I couldn’t guess and had to wait until I opened the gift to see what was inside. As an adult, I enjoy watching others open gifts, whether I was the buyer of them or not. It’s always fun, especially at wedding and baby showers, to watch the face of the gift receiver as she opens an adorable little monkey outfit (yes, my daughter opened one of those for my grandson!) or a beautiful tea set that will make what is currently the apartment of a bachelor look more classy after his bride joins him there. It is always nice to get new things, whether that be to replace an old worn out or broken item or just to have something one has never had before.
When I choose a gift for someone I love, I try to be mindful of the person’s likes and dislikes. For example, this month for my husband’s birthday, I wanted to surprise him with a dinner out. Now, we eat out quite a bit, especially since there are only two of us now and it isn’t too expensive to grab a bowl of Noodles or a pizza at Davannis. I didn’t want a run of the mill birthday dinner surprise this year. I wanted to take him somewhere I knew he would absolutely love AND somewhere we would probably not ever visit. Knowing that my husband is very much a carnivore and wanting to make him happy, I chose a steakhouse for his surprise. This wasn’t just any steakhouse; this was a Brazilian ALL YOU CAN EAT steakhouse! We were treated to piece after piece of wonderfully cooked steaks, chicken, and pork, some marinated with delectable flavors that danced on our taste buds. In addition to the meat, we were brought unlimited appetizers and salads. We both walked out of there stuffed fuller than we have ever been. I knew my husband liked steak, so I chose his gift in order to make him happy on his special day. I imagine if I told him I was surprising him for his birthday and subsequently drove up to the local McDonald’s, he would have been less than thrilled. It wouldn’t have showed him that I put extra thought into making sure he had a special gift; in fact, it may have made me look like I really didn’t care about his likes and dislikes. I knew I had made a good decision when he couldn’t stop talking about how good it was.
The right gift, whether it be a tangible package or something intangible like a grudge let go, can change a person’s day as well as a person’s attitude. When someone is having a bad day or is going through a difficult time, a gift from a friend, even if that gift is just a visit to encourage, can mean the world to someone.
Imagine, though, if my husband had left the steakhouse complaining about how full he was or how expensive it was. I would have felt horrible for ruining his birthday. Sometimes we do get gifts that maybe aren’t our favorite thing, but as adults we understand that the gift giver usually gives with good intention. In other words, grandma doesn’t mean to ruin Johnny’s birthday by giving him clothes. Johnny, being a child, can’t help but show his disappointment upon opening the box to find socks and underwear. As Johnny grows and matures, he understands that sometimes clothes are a blessing. After all, it is much more fun to spend extra money on fun things–whether one is an adult or a child– and replacing clothes that really need to be replaced is often not done.
This morning I signed onto Facebook and started scrolling through my news feed. I don’t always start my morning like that, but sometimes, while I am waiting for my body to cooperate with what my brain is trying to tell it to do, I scroll through news or Facebook on my phone. I came to a post by a Facebook friend, one I have not met in person. The post was a song that had touched this person’s life. I watched the video posted and began to think, as I have OFTEN thought in the past, how much I wish I could sing. I have repeatedly
asked complained to God about not giving me the gift of vocal performance. I love to sing and always do so when I am driving or riding in a vehicle or if I am home alone. I have often wished I could be part of a worship team–especially the worship team at our church. They are ridiculously talented and every Sunday they lead me to the feet of Christ in worship. If I could only sing, I would jump at the chance to join them as they stand on that stage and boldly proclaim the name of Jesus in song. But I cannot sing–at least not good enough to be in front of people. Again this morning, I found myself grumbling toward heaven as I wondered why I couldn’t have been given the ability to sing. That quickly led to a downward spiral of thought as I wondered what position I am supposed to be filling in God’s kingdom work. I began to think how I don’t have the gift of hospitality (introvert here) nor the gift of encouragement nor the gift of mercy nor the gift of…Soon I found myself in a pit of self pity convinced that if I disappeared from the church, no one would notice anyway.
I know the Bible says that God gives His children gifts and those gifts are to be used to build His kingdom. I have always felt like the kid sitting on the bench when it comes to spiritual work. That’s hard for me since I was never the kid sitting on the bench. I was a starter–an asset to my team when I was on the field. In my Christian life, though, I am floundering. When I do attempt to get in the game, I’m lost as to the play that is supposed to be happening and I quickly excuse myself from the game so as not to be mocked for my lack of skill. While others are obviously gifted and using those gifts in wonderful ways, I sit by wanting to get in the game but fearful of being ridiculed for “doing it wrong”. My bigger fear, though, is getting to heaven and standing before my Savior and having nothing to offer Him. If the Bible is true, and I believe it is, then somewhere in my created being resides a gift that I am supposed to be using for God.
The $64,000 question, though, is…
What Is It?