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Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Gift is My Blog, and ....This One's For You

     We use the word "gift" a lot, don't we? "She has a gift." "He's a gifted..." What does it even mean anyway? Mr. Jones and I use it when referring to my sister's children. These kids can sleep anywhere. I remember once being in the middle of a noisy restaurant on vacation and I looked over and there was my niece, sitting upright sound asleep in front of her chocolate cake- fork still in hand. Meanwhile my daughter's bouncing off the walls at 10 pm, "I don't want to go bed, Mommy. I'm not tired. Can we go play air hockey? Can I have some soda? What time does the show start? Can we go down to the disco?" And a weary Mr. Jones looks at me, then at my niece and then back at me and says, "Those kids have a gift." But really, who is the gift for? Is it a gift for the kid that she can sleep? Or a gift for my sister that her kids have an off switch?  That's what confuses me. Who is receiving said gifts?
     Supposedly, everyone has a gift of some sort. Everyone has something that makes him special. For most of my life, I had no idea what my gift was. I was never really good at anything. I never thought of myself as particularly pretty or funny like my BFF, Jennie, who boys just pined over, and who can even make a story about digging up dead bodies funny (It's not weird- she's a forensic scientist). I loved music, but wasn't very talented like my sister.  I wasn't a great dancer or exceptionally witty like my other BFF, Missy. I wasn't a great athlete like my cousin, Andrea. I was "the smart one". In fact, the school district even went so far as to call me "gifted" because I scored high on some test that means nothing. But I always knew that there were plenty of people who were way smarter than I was....especially when I got to college. So I don't really consider my level of intelligence as that much of a great gift. I'm really not an expert on anything. I'm not even a great scientist because I'm not organized enough. I'd like to think I'm a great teacher, but I know what some of my colleagues are doing and I pale in comparison. I have many interests, and things that I'm good at, but I'm really sort of a "jack-of all trades" and a master of none.
     Mr. Jones has a gift. He has this way about him. He's so humble. He presents himself with no bravado, no pretense and no nonsense. And people love him. (He's not even going to agree with that statement because that's how humble he is. Meanwhile, every nurse/volunteer in the cancer center who has ever treated him has stopped by his treatment today to see how he's doing and to tell him how wonderful he is.) He's a great dog trainer....and people trainer for that matter. He has this way of affecting people (and animals) so that they want to change their behavior....and often they do without even realizing it. That's his gift. But I wonder whose gift is it really? Is it a gift to him from God? Or is it his gift to the world from within? Or is he God's gift to us? Maybe some combination of all three?
     I really believe that everyone one of us does have a gift. Given to each of us to present to the world. It took me a long time. I spent most of my young life trying to camouflage my personality. I realized early on that most people didn't get me. If I had a dime for every time someone told me to think less.... I worked very hard to appear normal. I didn't want anyone to think that there was anything extra ordinary about me. I don't know when I finally stopped hiding. Some time after I hit 30 I realized that I like who I am even if it isn't ordinary. I have an uncanny ability to develop deep friendships with people, and I like that about me. I do have a gift after all. I have been given a gift from God to share with the world. My gift is the ability to make anyone I meet feel good about who they are. Like I said, I'm not exceptionally good at anything.  BUT maybe realizing how not good I am, and how talented other people are is my gift. I am extra-ordinary. I have the ability to love people without fear, accept people without judgement and find the redeeming qualities that make each and every person I know feel special about something. And that is why I have been called to write. We spend so much time cutting each other down to elevate our own egos. We judge out of envy and fear. We are so afraid that if someone else has a gift that it makes our value less. Well I am not a 4 year old child who can't handle seeing my sister open her birthday presents. I am proud my sister. I am not jealous that she is tall and thin and beautiful and an amazing singer and the kind of teacher who students adore to the point of stalking. She has a gift. You have a gift too. And you need to stop hiding behind your fears and insecurities and come out and share that gift. You need to be celebrated. None of us is ordinary. Paradoxically, each one of us is extraordinary. We need to stop tearing other people apart for they gifts we are envious of, be grateful for the gifts we have been given to share, and celebrate the gifts that we appreciate in others. Poorly scripted reality TV and the anonymity of technology has turned us into a culture of  mean girls. We just criticize and put down and make fun of. We cannot continue support this culture of negativity. This nation was founded on the idea that each one of us has a right to be who we are without fear. We have become our own worst enemies. So I beg of you, be authentic. Be yourself. Let your gifts shine through regardless of what the mean girls say. You are extra-ordinary, so be extraordinary.

.....As always, I hope you will pass this on. Someone out there needs to know that she is extraordinary too. Someone out there needs to stop being afraid to be himself. Click "like" at the top or the little "f" below to share the link on fb or the "T" to share to twitter. Or copy the http to email to someone whose gift you appreciate. (Be sure to tell them what you love about them!) Sending my love out to you always! <3

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