Give your gift away

Once upon a time (thirty-five years ago) in a land far, far away (Arkansas), a brand new baby girl was brought into the world. Not with a silver spoon mind you, but she did come with a mop of curly strawberry-blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and more “look out world” attitude than one could ever imagine.

Unbeknownst to her, she also came with an assortment of wrapped gifts that would in fact be unwrapped little by little as life itself unfurled. She walked through life, invisible tote full of gifts slung over her shoulder. As she removed each one to give it away, she would find out more about herself in the process, and in fact, receive so much more in return than what she gave.

The first gift to give away would be companionship. The little girl was to be a companion for a woman who had known very little unconditional love and companionship in her life. Through circumstances beyond her control, the little girl would grow up with her disabled grandmother as primary caregiver. In exchange for giving the gift of her time and companionship, the little girl would have an upbringing quite different than her friends. Where her friends were watching Goonies and Molly Ringwald, the little girl would grow to love showtunes, black and white movies, Shirley Temple and Fred Astaire, and inform you that Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn are neither the same person, nor are they sisters, cousins, or mother and daughter.

The next gift the little girl would discover she had was a love for reading and writing. She would get lost in fairy
tales, coming-of-age tales, read every Beezus and Ramona book available, and commonly check out ten books at a time from the library. And let’s not forget the time she got caught sitting on the kitchen counter pretending to wash dishes when in fact she had read through three chapters of Charlotte’s Web, while an unmanned kitchen faucet gushed next to her, not a single bowl or plate cleaned.

This particular gift would come in phases. It would take years for the little girl to realize that this gift, like a precious jewel, was multi-faceted. And it would take many events, and many decades for her to understand the gift she had given was not just to read what others had written, but also to write for children, to continue breathing the breath of whimsy and youth into their hearts, and to encourage those who needed encouragement at the time through the written word. In return, she may never receive an award, gift of applause, recognition, or thanks, but something much, much deeper. For each time she gave this gift away, she would be filled with an unmistakable joy, a passion like no other, and a heartfelt knowledge that THIS was and is her calling in life; one she must NEVER give up on, no matter the odds.

By now, this girl would have grown into a woman, and unwrapped the gift of vision. Not the gift of sight, though it is in itself, a blessing to have. No, this gift would be different. The gift of vision looks at a scene and sees not what is currently, but potential for what is to be. She looks at her daughter and sees an amazing little girl, very much like the girl she used to be. She sees heart and soul, a love for music, dancing, reading, drawing, and all things creative. She can work a room like no other – survey all in attendance and know the situation and how to diffuse it or use it to her advantage (dangerous, I know!). She sees a child as smart as a whip, and recognizes the need to teach grace, tact, patience, and empathy so that pride does not befall her. While the child has the intellect to become a doctor or a lawyer, the woman could also see her daughter dancing on broadway, as an artist, or the next cartoon voice for Disney.

She sees her son, passionate, caring, and wild; the wide-open practical joker who can liven a room with his smile and laughter, yet has a heart of service like none other. He is smart, but a different “smart” – he has emotional intelligence – the empathy that his sister lacks comes naturally to him. He is sad when you are sad, yet is the clone of his father for his mischievous ways. He is the one that can achieve greatness as long as he knows you believe in him, and expect nothing less than for him than to try. She sees him as a veterinarian, the quirky high school teacher you all loved, or even the bus driver who always has a dimpled smile for everyone, and turns your entire world for the better in one 10-minute drive each morning.

The gift of vision does not end with just her children. She meets a woman, colleague, and dear friend who says “I don’t think I can” and envisions her a year from now with a reward for a achievement not only met but surpassed. She sees the dreams of other friends and dreams with them, encouraging them to pursue their own passions. She sees the grassy backyard of a new friend who dreams of a yard for her family, the bucket of fish in the hand of a long-time friend dreaming to be a penguin keeper, and a brand new life for a dear friend on a new journey as a single mom, her long-lost Jesus walking steadfastedly by her side. She sees her team of colleagues as the woman they long to be, and her husband as an exotic fish farmer, audio visual entrepreneur, and yes, ALSO as the quirky high school history teacher (I told you the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). In return, her friends share their dreams, and she encourages them, with a smile, a word, or maybe just holding the candle high until that person takes their gift off the shelf to use it and give it away to someone else.

For you see, the gifts she has given so far, companionship, writing, visioning and encouraging, and the gifts we have ALL been given do no good if not given away. By giving them away, we not only bless others, but are blessed with much more in return. Look back in your own life. Look at the gifts you’ve been given, or even those you’re afraid to share. No one enters this world gift-less. What passion have you given up on? What dream have you let die? There is no dream too silly, for it is yours. No one can do it the way you can. God did not give you a heart full of dreams so that you would keep them to yourself. To give the gift away… open it… embrace it, that is just the beginning. For it is when we embrace who we are and believe in the person we are yet to be, that is when our gift is returned to us, tenfold bigger and brighter.

Go ahead – someone is waiting for your gift, I promise.

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