A gift is something given. It’s given out of love. It may be given to help another, to connect with another, to encourage another. No expectation is involved. No returning the favor is considered. It’s free to the receiver.
I once thought it required a trip into town to find the right thing, wrapping paper, a bow, but all of that is not necessary.
Let’s think outside the box.
Rarely do I catch a glimpse of what I’ve been given by God. My life, for one thing. I simply forget that God gives me the gift of life. I forget He gives me the blue and green I see all around me. Yes, it’s a gift from God to me. When I think about it, I’m incredibly grateful.
When someone hands me a rose or magnolia bloom from the yard, I’m joyful. That person knows me and was thinking of me when he or she picked that flower.
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Making a life shows who we are.
The little boy who gave away the loaves and fishes in John 6:9 of the Bible had a giving heart, and Jesus multiplied the gift. I think about the trust level of the little boy. He gave up his entire lunch his mother had packed. He trusted. I think Churchill would say he was making a life.
Children. I think they are masters of giving into the impulse to give. They give with big smiles on their little faces. And if something was amiss an hour ago for them, it’s suddenly gone. They give, and they’re suddenly ready to dance!
Do children have the gift for giving? Maybe. If the gift is accepted, the rift or sad moment is healed. Truly gone. Some will, however, stand and wait for the twinkle in the other person’s eye, for him or her to say, “Ohhhh, thank you.”
My granddaughter wrote notes to people for gifts not long ago. Writing the notes was important to her. I have no idea what she wrote, but I know her words came from her heart. They were a gift to the giver. Always, her heart is wide-open when she writes her thoughts and feelings.
I keep my expectations low on daily gifts, but that may not be good.
Daily gifts are everywhere, if I look close—a cloud bumping another, wind blowing the trees, shadows in the late afternoon, stars burning a billion candles. I just need to slow down, open my eyes, and look. Lord, give me the eyes to see.
As a child, my father often called my attention to details. “Hey, look at this!” It could be anything: the antics of a dog or the daffodils finally coming up. That was his way of sharing a gift with me. It was his way of giving me “a sight.” Sadly, it took me many years to understand that it was a gift. It did not come with a bow on it, so I did not know to value it.
C. S. Lewis says, “Nothing that you have not given away will ever really be yours.” What????!
Something to think about.
This past week, we picked up children for church. One closed the door to her house, popped in the van, and handed me the coloring of a cross. It was her art. “For you, Ms. Pat!” she said. Her cousin, who is a bit competitive, colored a Summer Day picture near the end of her class and gave the art to me as a gift. Was one child teaching the other about giving? It is possible. If so, no words were spoken. However it went, I think it felt good to all three of us.
I remember visiting my mother in her last days. Two-way conversations no longer came easily for her. Always, I took her something to enjoy, something to wear, and something to eat. It was like a balm for us. When she saw I had some sort of present for her, she’d brighten. It was like her day had just started. Pleased her, pleased me.
Maybe that’s how it is when I slow myself down and notice the sunset. Pleases me, pleases God. He give us gifts every day. We can please Him by just noticing His bigness, His miracles, how He works in our world.
Once, my mother was a great storyteller. She told and retold the same ones. I recall when I was seven years old, we children would gather on the porch for her stories. These were gifts she was giving. (I realize that now.) I looked forward to that time of evening. Every story was a gift. Her storytelling left its mark on my ordinary world and on me.
Gifts. They encourage others. People need them. You and I have plenty to give. It doesn’t have to be monetary. You have kind words, maybe squash and tomatoes. You have random acts and smiles. You have gifts to give.
Maybe the children can lead us.
Artwork, gifts from children to Ms. Pat. Photographed by Pat Durmon, July 2021.
Poetry Books by Pat Durmon Women, Resilient Women
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