Gifts

  gold gifts

“All goods look better when they look like gifts.” GK Chesterton

Good Things Are Gifts

It is giving season. I am way behind on my shopping.

This year I am focusing more on receiving.

I am growing at paying attention to the many gifts I receive on even the most difficult days.

I wear glasses. Over the past few years, as I hit the age when most people begin sporting reading glasses, my once perfect-because-they-were-corrected-with-Lasik-surgery eyes went the other way and regressed again into extreme near sightedness. Things seen at even a medium distance have the blurriness of an impressionist painting. Without lenses, nothing is sharp. Glasses correct my warped vision so that I can see the world as it is. I am I also am prone to a certain astigmatism of soul. Without putting on a corrective lens each day I tend to misperceive the world. Scores of good things pass by me each day without me giving them enough focused attention to remember later that they were there. I seem to be able to discern this syndrome more quickly in others than in myself. I hear my middle aged slightly cranky voice saying things like, “the younger generation today acts so entitled.”

This past weekend one of those young people set a very good example for me. We were discussing her future plans. She had a hard start in life and a less than ideal childhood. Rather than dwelling on anger at the bad stuff she expressed gratitude for the good stuff. She has learned the secret of viewing herself through the lens of what Robert Emmons calls “The Gifted Self.”

 

“Reflect on your present blessings of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.“ Charles Dickens

Someday I will Uncover Good Gifts Hidden Under My Worst Suffering

ugly gift

 

My life, like most, has its ups and downs. As I look back, I find a shocking trend. The worst things, the biggest pains and misfortunes have been the conduits for the best things. Providence, the good God,  is always up to something. There are some painful relationships and events that I don’t understand. That is because I am still in the middle of my story. There is conflict in the middle of every good story. I imagine that on one of the first days after my life on earth is over I will snuggle close to the One who loves me more than I can understand. I will say, “tell me the part about…again. Why did you let that happen? How did you use that for good?” and when I can see the whole story from beginning to end I will have to acknowledge that it was a good story. All of it.

 

God Doesn’t Owe Me

iou

Everything I have now was given as a gratuitous gift. God doesn’t owe me anything.

For a while my job was to teach “gifted” children in a Christian school. All children, (and all adults) are gifted, but these children knew they were special. Most everything related to learning and remembering came easily. Some of them were prone to arrogance. Some days the most difficult thing about teaching them was helping them climb down off their high horses.

“You didn’t do anything to be born the way you are. God has a plan for you. It will be a big adventure. It will require everything God gave you and a whole lot more. He didn’t give you any extra ability. You will need every ounce of what he gave you to serve him, to do good.”

Though my students were almost universally smarter than I am, the same little speech applies equally to me. My gifts, my talents, every object I own, my bank account, my family, my friends, the sun on my face, all of them are gifts. Even my ability to enjoy the things I have is a gift.

Remembering the Giver

blue gift

When the full moon seems to draw near to get a peek at me, or snow crunches under my boots or later when I tuck cold toes under a warm blanket, I can intentionally pause to feel thankful and remember that even the moon and snow are gifts from someone. I am not just grateful. I am grateful to someone who loves me and gives me love gifts every day.

May your day be full to the brim of every good gift.

These thoughts were prompted by Thanks: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier  by Robert Emmons. It is this year’s recipient of the Dallas Willard Award.  I highly recommend it.

You might also enjoy this previous post about gratitude.

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