How to Choose the Perfect Gift

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I was wrapping gifts and pondering the flimsy-ness of all our lives. We are, generally, unaware of our own power, our own beauty and the gifts that flow from our lives.

Over and over we offer our gifts, and these gifts feel so small. We wonder if they are worth much at all, or even worse, that we are a walking offense.

I remember a time when a friend came for soup and conversation and brought her little girl. Sarah, aged five, didn’t want to come to visit empty-handed, so she quickly drew me a picture of herself and me, with a heart on each side of the page. She folded it up and gave it to me quite bravely.

It occurred to me that as we get older and ‘wiser,’ we forget to give our gifts with the same sort of un-self-conscious daring.

A while back, I started giving gifts that came from my hoard of possessions (and it is a hoard). I sent my friend with cancer a modest diamond bracelet Steve had given me. I told her to consider it a gift from God. Her daughter was wearing it at her funeral, I think. I gave someone else a book I loved that had my notes all through it. Another time, I gave a small statue I had enjoyed on my desk. These gifts seemed more meaningful to me than a bought thing. Of course, maybe the receiver didn’t think so! 🙂

I am going to keep this up. I’ll give away a sweater to a person who would look great in it. I’ll give away boots because I just don’t need three pair. I’ll give away scarves and books and jewelry.

But, will I also be brave enough to keep giving my own self and then not critiquing my gift to death? I’ve come to believe that to go over and over my actions and what people must think of me is the sin of self-consideration. Simply put – it is the sin of seeing everything through the lens of me. What do you think of me? How did I come across? Who do you think I am?

I have grown in this, but I want to grow more and more bold. I want to believe that my true gifts of self, whether they are a small part in a larger drama or a moment of conversation, are really a dazzling burst of spirit that imperfectly brings forth life.

What is true, what is given with love, what is full of humor…these things are beyond critique. So, draw your little picture, fold it up carefully and give it with spirit!

Image attribution: gatanos / Thinkstock

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Vice President for Community Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary and has been a church leader in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination since 1979. She has wide pastoral experience in partnership with her husband Steve. Together, they have lead three churches over 31 years, provided missionary member-care and pastoral retreats in Chile, Argentina and Venezuela since l985, and formation teaching during Field Conferences in Eastern Europe and Indonesia.

1 COMMENT

  1. You gave me a painting of a funny little bird emerging from the shell and told me it represented my transformation. You’d purchased the painting yourself, with hard-earned dollars, and I loved it but almost didn’t want to take it because it felt so huge to me. It’s hanging in my home still and always will. I love it because it reminds me of you and the faith you had in me, and I love it because it reminds of how far I’ve come, but also, that I’m still emerging and there is more beauty still inside the shell. It was a gift of love to me and I cherish it.

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