The Greatest Gift Is In Giving Yourself To Others
Rural Roots December 26, 2004
Gifts are great to receive, and also great to give. But most gifts wear out in time. Toys break down or go out of popularity. Clothing wears out. Chocolates are eaten. Flowers and plants age and die.
Sometimes we get gifts we don't want and we may be disappointed, hurt or angry. Or, we may not get what we wanted. As a child, my immature mind didn't see new socks as a "Christmas gift" from some caring relatives. When I didn't show excitement and surprise at opening the present, I received a parental lecture that I should be thankful for what I get, and that I needed to think of the giving behind the gift. Giving a gift is not a duty. It is a choice.
Many youngsters are impatient to grow up. They look forward to being able to do things they couldn't do as children, such as driving the car, going out on dates, etc. having a girlfriend or boyfriend. Life to them is a gift of an ever-widening world.
Many of us who are older and dealing with aging, may not appreciate some of the gifts that may come with each additional year, such as arthritis, hip problems, or problems with weight control. In my case, I don't enjoy seeing my age clearly displayed in the more noticeable veins in my ankles and feet, or the extra effort it sometimes takes to get going in the morning. But the more I get up, and exercise those feet, the healthier they will be and the longer they will be useful.
The gift of life needs to be lived, otherwise it loses its "giftedness" and life becomes a chore rather than a joy. Living fully your life, however you are able to live it, honours and demonstrates this true gift of life. Life is hope, and hope is life, as long as you continue to set one positive goal for yourself each day.
The greatest gift of all lasts forever. It is the gift of giving of yourself. It is easy to talk about giving of yourself in a loving way, but it can be difficult to do at times. It is easy to close yourself off to others, or get involved with computer games or other solo activities. It is easy to allow a bad mood within yourself to take over, or to pass your frustrations onto others.
Many people give generously of their time as well as their money, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. It is much appreciated by others.
Every relationship in life, whether in marriage, in a family, at work or in the community, requires giving in order for the relationship to work and stay healthy.
Some people, especially men, have a hard time giving and sharing their feelings. Many men and some women were not taught how to share feelings. Many carry around hurt, pain, or grudges from the past for most of their life.
The majority of marriages in difficulty, that I see as a counselor, involve a lack of the ability to share personal feelings with each other, or to communicate those feelings in a caring and respectful way. The closer you are to someone, the harder it is sometimes to share your true feelings, as you feel most vulnerable to them.
When we see gifts as duty, then the gift loses its meaning. The many "gift exchanges" that occur in social groups are fine and although they are often fun, and sometimes contain cute surprises, these gifts are really an exchange of things - not a true gift.
A true gift is not demanded, needed, or at times, even expected. It doesn't come with attachments or conditions. Sharing yourself, your feelings and your affections, is what a gift is all about. You give because you want to give. You don't give so that you can get. True giving is not a trading session. It is unconditional and only wants to give.
The receipt of a gift is a celebration in many religions. The birth of Jesus of Nazareth is seen by Christians as being a celebration of God becoming human and bringing the gift of eternal life. But Jesus also taught about giving the gift of self to others, and demonstrated it as well. According to theologians, Jesus may have been prophesied, but he wasn't a guaranteed thing. The experience and teachings of Jesus could not be demanded. They could only be accepted by those who chose to accept them. His ideas challenged many of the teachings of the time. His ideas about love, caring and acceptance still challenge us today where we often choose aggression over peace as a way of solving conflicts throughout the world.
This is also true of every other religious teacher and prophet in the history of human history. I believe that the Creator or Greater Power also worked through many other people in many ways, and is still sending us prophets today.
Christmas is a celebration of our journey of learning to understand the true meaning of gifts. May your Christmas be a gift to you, and may you pass on your gift of yourself to others as well.
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