Monday, December 24, 2012

What's In A Gift (Part 1)

It has taken me years to figure out all that's entwined in a gift.

Some people have a knack at knowing exactly what to give another.  Not me.  Gift giving ranks high on my stress level gauge.  Don't get me wrong, I do love to give a gift when I have a really great idea and I know it is a perfect fit for the one receiving it.  But I'm not always very good at coming up with the idea.  Perhaps its because my heart is two sizes too small or maybe because receiving gifts is not my primary love language.

However, I have a mother-in-law who has this area nailed.  She is the ultimate gift person.  She has taught me much about generosity and thoughtfulness. (Although I'm still learning) I grew up in a family that was not big on gifts.  We received one low dollar item from the person who drew our name.  That was all.  Not to be a martyr or to say it was wrong.  I dearly treasure the Christmases of my childhood.   But I did not really understand what went into a gift or why a gift can be important until I got married.

I'm not talking about the gift we buy for someone out of stingy obligation, grudgingly given.  It is not the gift we've recycled because we don't want it or we're seeking frugality.  It is not how cheap I can go or how little I can expend.   Instead, I'm speaking of a true heart and soul gift, freely and eagerly given.

Gift giving is risky.  I don't know whether the other person will like it or if they will think it is stupid, cheesy, cheap, or too extravagant.  I risk vulnerability.  

To give a meaningful gift it is helpful to know the other person.  It requires we get involved in their lives and pursue a relationship with them.  It means we are there for them when they are grieving or going through difficult days, even if it is highly inconvenient or awkward for us.

A gift that does not disappoint also requires that we think of what they might enjoy.  It might be something completely foreign to us, but know it would give them great delight.  We visit stores where we feel like a fish out of water.  For me, that would be the computer or hardware store.  We venture out on icy roads, making a second trip and sometimes even a third to find just the right thing.  It means planning ahead.

A gift always costs us something, not only from our purses, but perhaps more so from our time, effort, and energy.  At last the gift is carefully wrapped and given.  Wow!   That's a lot of love in a gift!  No wonder Gary Chapman considers it one of the five love languages.

Yet, why the gift?  Why is a gift so important?  Have you ever thought about what's in the gift that God gave to us?  Whew!  Incredible.   More on that tomorrow.

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