What is the perfect gift for those special people in your life? The gift that won’t be the wrong size, color, clash with the décor of the home or be less than what is expected. There is one gift that will always be welcome. It is truly a “one size fits all.”
We’ve all had to face the reality that the “perfect gift” is often returned shortly after the last Christmas turkey is finished. Let me assure you, there is one gift that will not be returned.
In one sense, gift giving is rather complex. I remember one Christmas when my father gave my mother a movie camera. In those days this was a rather special gift. Did my mom appreciate my Dad’s gesture? She was kind and polite and did not return the gift. But we all knew that Mom got the gift that my Dad wanted. He was the camera buff and he was the one interested in recording our family posterity on movie film. We often give what is valuable and special to us anticipating that the recipient shares our values. This presumption is a recipe for disappointment. The less than enthusiastic response of the recipient leaves us confused and bewildered.
And then there is the gift to pay a debt—for some reason I owe them for what they have given or done. It’s a gift given out of duty not delight. The response of the recipient is irrelevant. We have done our duty and now we can go on with life.
The magnet gift is one of the more subtle ones. It’s the gift that is given with the intention of drawing a response from the recipient. I want to be liked, appreciated and valued and I’m trusting that “my investment” will bring a “good return.” When the return isn’t commensurate with the investment there is a strain in the relationship. “Why can’t they appreciate the value I’ve expressed and show appropriated signs of recognition?”
Alright, so what is that perfect gift? IT IS YOU! We can make the ultimate sacrifice and still not give ourselves. We can speak with language that would stimulate envy in the greatest poets. But! if we do not give ourselves, those words are hollow and void of real content. I could be the Prime Minister of Canada, be sought after for my wisdom and knowledge or accomplish great and powerful works. As impressive as my resume may be, if I cannot give myself, people will view me as the Hollow Man:
“shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;”
(The Hollow Men – T S Eliot)
So how do we go about giving ourselves? Think of it this way. Life is the dynamic energy of intellect, emotion and will. If I am to give myself I must be willing to invest my life in the life of the other person.
Giving myself is the engagement of my mind to enter into the thoughts, aspirations, dreams, delights and desires of the other person. I will not judge, criticize or minimize what I discover but rather honor their willingness to share the intimate areas of their mind.
Furthermore, I will purpose to engage my emotion in the full spectrum of their feelings. I will learn to weep with them in their loss and disappointment and also to share the joy and ecstasy of their delight.
The ultimate act is to determine with my will to seek the good of the other person at my own personal expense. It is the willingness to say, “I will do what I can to help enrich you so that you are the better for having known me.”
Christmas is really about God’s willingness to give Himself for us. He didn’t come to give us positions, power and possessions. He came to absorb the puss of our inhumanity so that we could be transformed from the inside out and release the dynamic energy of His life to others.
This Christmas I encourage you to ask the penetrating question: “What am I giving?”: A gift that meets my need?; A gift that pays a debt?; or A gift that will move others to like me? Instead, I encourage you to move to a higher level and let your tangible gift be an expression of your desire to give yourself.
Have a wonderful Christmas and may the Christ of Christmas empower you to allow His unconditional love to be expressed through you.