Friday, January 31, 2014

Giving it back....

I love words.  They float around in my head like a bubble and I love plucking just the right one from the cloud.  That's probably what drove me the most crazy about learning to speak Bengali, I was locked into basic communication because of my own lack of expertise instead of expressing just the nuance and tone that I wanted.  It felt like baby talk and left the communicator in me feeling like I was missing a vital part of my anatomy.

That's why I like to write.  I don't think fast enough, or I'm just too picky to be happy with what generally comes out of my mouth.  I have to say a lot to get at what I really want, whereas when I write I can pause and let the word come like an artist with a paintbrush.

At times I write because I have something to say and somehow want to express that---even if no one ever reads it.  Sometimes it's a form of processing for me and helps me work through some emotion or thing that I don't understand.  And at other times I just write for the love of it.  It fills me with peace and a deep sense of satisfaction.

Lately I've been feeling a responsibility to write.  A compulsion to do it regularly.  And I wonder if it's just somehow that it's good for me, or if maybe it's an impulse put there because of something that I'm meant to say after I practice the process a bit more.  The thought that it may be for the sake of others fills me with trepidation and feelings of inadequacy.

Yesterday, however, I was thinking about gifts and the Giver and about how I've always without really thinking about it, considered gifts as something to be 'used' for others.  But that doesn't quite fit with the practical, internal theology that I've been developing over the last couple of years.  The mind-shift that what's the first priority isn't what is given out, but about what goes in and the Relationship that that involves. (Something that I've always believed but didn't always live.) That the service is just the overflow of that.  And if our value isn't based in what we DO but just in Him, how does that co-exist with gifts and their usefulness?

Google says that a 'gift' inherently is, "a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present."  So if it's something given, then doesn't that mean that it's something meant to bring joy to the recipient as well?  And bring joy to the giver, too, in the act of giving?  THEN being played onward in that the person with the gift can use it for others as well---and gain further joy from the expression of it?

In the movie Chariots of Fire there is a scene where Eric Liddell tells his sister why he puts value in his ability to run.  He says, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

Running.  Something that sounded frivolous to the sister, but brought joy to Eric himself.  And ended up being part of the platform of 'usefulness' in Eric's life.  

Perhaps 'gift' in the sense of a natural aptitude for something is more than just a way of being 'useful.'  My light bulb moment yesterday involved putting 'gift' into a different paradigm, into how using a 'gift' can actually be an act of worship.  An act of thankfulness to the Giver.  Ultimately an act of relationship........

Bringing us closer to Him.  Acknowledging where the gift came from.  In dependence on Him.  In partnership with Him.

My hubby finds joy in mechanical things.  A smooth engine is like Beethoven to his ears.  He can tell you what kind of engine is driving past just by the sound.  A couple of our kids can draw and I love to watch their joyful concentration in the process.   A friend has discovered at age 40 that she can run.  And she loves it!  Some are gifted in relationship, and thrive off of making someone else feel good about themselves.  Some find joy in a perfectly balanced budget, making unruly numbers obey them instead of vice versa (another one of Steve's loves!).  Another friend finds relationship with Him when she's baking.  It's the activity that brings her the most peace.  I'm so amazed by one friend who officiates wedding and funerals, but absolutely thrives on a funeral and the celebration of a life by those who were touched by it.

Gifts.  They come in an endless variety reflecting the boundless creativity of the Giver.  I'm thinking that it's valuable to express them positively.  Even if at times they don't seem 'important'.  Or seem trivial.  That the very act of using them brings glory to the Giver and brings us closer in relationship to Him as well.

That taking time out of busy lives to hone our gifts isn't frivolous, it's worthwhile---and might just be exactly what He had in mind!

So grab your gift.  And open it!