Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gifts and Givers

Recently I read The Shack and felt that I had been given a different perspective on God. That perspective felt like a gift—an unexpected and wonderful gift. Then this past weekend a man gave one of our children a gift that can only be called uplifting—which is pretty funny since they were very busy falling through the air. Thanks to this man’s generosity, we have a picture of the two of them in free fall 13,000 feet up—on the way down. Apparently jumping out of a plane and falling through the air before opening a parachute can give one an entirely new perspective on life. Not many of the people we know could give a 29-year-old man a new outlook and a feeling of purpose in life. It was such an unexpected gift.

Yesterday Fang and I heaved, sawed, drilled in screws, and otherwise put in a full day of remodeling. We were sitting here in the office at our computers when he said, “Thank you. I love you very much.”

While I am not unaccustomed to his telling me that he loves me, I wondered aloud why he said thank you. His answer was simple, yet it surprised me: “You helped me accomplish what needed to be done today. I am thanking you for that.”

Not everyone says thank you, and he didn’t have to say anything at all. But he did. His appreciation was his gift to me.

It seems that a spirit of appreciation permeates our society when we look around at it. Back some time ago a couple of big companies made drugs available at reduced cost. Whether or not anyone wrote thank you notes to these companies is not the point, but some of us truly appreciate the fact that we can buy generic drugs for $4 whenever we need them. And now a supermarket chain has announced that certain antibiotics and prenatal vitamins will be free with a prescription. That was something special as a gift in my book!

The cost of a gift may or may not mean anything. That simple thank you given to me the other evening just made my day 100% better than it already was. But what made it so special was the fact that it was so unexpected and so freely given. I hope that none of our family will need any antibiotics this winter—and CERTAINLY no prenatal vitamins! However, knowing that someone is willing to help out those who may need those drugs makes me feel richer. That probably sounds weird, but I can’t think of a better word than richer to explain the feeling that we have resources we didn’t know we had. It’s like suddenly finding a $20 bill in a jacket you wore last fall. Or better yet, it is like discovering that your “Friends of the Family” card has earned $100, and that the check will be here this week while Sutherland’s sale is on. (Sutherland’s—our favorite lumber and hardware store—has to be visited at least once a month according to Fang.)

The author of The Shack didn’t know exactly what effect his book would have, but he must have known that his vision was worth sharing. Sutherland’s doesn’t have to use a rewards system to keep customers, but that reward will be returned to them in another purchase. Wayne Berryhill may get an extremely rare thank you note from our number one youngest son, but I know for a fact that the gift he gave our son was really the sharing of a love for life. Expressing appreciation for that kind of gift may take awhile—it might just mean that the younger man will learn to be the same kind of giver as the man who gave the gift.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could give unexpected gifts—a smile, a compliment, even just the right of way. Hmmm. I have some extra flowers that need to be repotted and a friend who just built a sun room.


Carla said...

Nancy, thanks for sharing your gift of humor and perspective with all of us!

Anonymous said...

Book had the same affect on me. Glad it did for you too.