The idea for this post surfaced nearly two years ago. It is hard to believe that time moves by that quickly, or that I am able to procrastinate that badly, but alas here I am finally putting this out there.
You are a GIFT!
You really are. Even with all your human imperfections, you are a gift to this world.
Two Years Ago
If this were a sitcom, the wavy lines would come swooping in along with eerie music to let you know we are heading back in time. It was early spring and I had volunteered to help at a seminar. The weather was just starting to get warm and I really didn’t want to spend the day indoors. However, as is often the case, I felt obligated and ultimately knew that I would benefit from hearing the speaker, so I went.
The communication surrounding what needed to be done in preparation for the seminar had been spotty. Normally that would have made me terribly uneasy, but in this case I thought, “I’m just a volunteer, surely I won’t have much responsibility.” I was wrong. Turned out I was in charge of a group session of over 25 people. We were to discuss a book that I had read 2 years prior, the contents of which I couldn’t remember at all.
Going With the Flow
Being so woefully unprepared is not my style, and I was feeling embarrassed. An interesting thing happens though when you realize that there is nothing you can do to control the situation – you have to surrender and go with the flow. I had brought a handout of information from the book, because even when I’m unprepared I’m still pretty prepared, but beyond that, I had nothing. As I passed the sheets around, I asked that each participant share what he or she enjoyed most about the book. Before I knew it the discussion had a life of its own, and I could breathe again.
I was astounded as each person who spoke said something profound. Always the scribe, I jotted the words down quickly, barely keeping up. One person said, “We have a choice in every moment. Grace is a habit.” Another added, we should “see the world as a place to give to, not to take from.” On and on, the words of wisdom poured out and I marveled at how much I was learning in this circle of people that I was supposed to be leading.
Words Come When Needed
The conversation transitioned to the topic of personal challenges, as that was actually one of the messages of the book. One of the younger participants, a woman in her 20s who I felt bore a resemblance to myself at that age, confided that she had been struggling with the concept of making personal decisions that could hurt others. She explained that she was very different from her mother, so when she made her own choices they often caused her mother grief. Without even thinking I proclaimed, “You are a gift to your mother. You are teaching her lessons that she needs to learn.” The young woman began to cry. In an instant, I was deeply connected to her and her pain. Members of the group offered up the additional suggestion that disappointing another person is often the very driver that the person needs for their growth and evolution.
A Universal Truth Revealed
I left the seminar class feeling as though I had stumbled upon a universal truth. It was the answer to a question I had been pondering for years – why do parents often have children with dispositions that are so different from their own? I had witnessed it in my own life as an introvert born to very extroverted parents. I had also observed it throughout my extended family as I watched my nieces and nephews struggle to find their place with parents who didn’t understand them. Although in an instant the answer had become clear, I still wasn’t quite able to fully embrace the “you are a gift” theory. As usual, I needed more validation.
Two Weeks Ago
Flash forward to the present day (insert more wavy lines and eerie music here) and I feel ever more clear. A few weeks ago, I found myself unexpectedly helping some colleagues move a piece of heavy furniture. I’m not especially strong, but I was determined to be of use. Together we all worked on what seemed like an impossible task of getting the large item through a small doorway. Other than offering words of advice and encouragement, I didn’t feel like I had been all that much help. Still, when we were done and the heavy item was finally in place, one of the men I had been helping looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “you are a gift.”
The Light Goes On
It was as though a light was suddenly lit within me. As had been the case for the young woman in the seminar two years ago, I finally got the message. The very words that I had used myself actually made sense to me.
It isn’t about what I do or what I said. I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to please anyone, or do anything that anyone else wants me to do. I AM a gift just by being me.
We are all gifts to each other, to our parents, to our friends; to the person we pass on the street. We tend to think of gifts as material things, but I can see now that the ultimate gift can come as a message – words that let people know they are valued, that they have meaning, and that they belong in this world. I needed to hear that message in that very moment. My hope is that you will read this just when you need it too.