Friday, September 28, 2012

The Gifts

I received a gift this week.

It all started with a batman lunchbox.  A very cute, tin, batman lunchbox, which Boston was determined to acquire.   Much to his dismay I told him that we would not be purchasing the lunch box. 

Instantly my beautiful sweet three year old boy transformed, threw himself on the floor and began screaming.  It was a doosie of a meltdown let me tell you.  There was no way anyone in Target could have missed it, for that matter it is quite possible that everyone in town heard it. 

And here in Target is where I received my gift.  As I walked through Target with a child who by all accounts appeared possessed, I passed another mother with a young child who was smiling and content.  She smiled at me and said she was just starting her shopping, but that she would soon be joining me with a child melting down as well. 

I checked out.  I pushed my cart out in the parking lot, yes Boston is still screaming. Another mother caught my eye. She smiled, and she said, "I understand."

These women may have no idea how significant their words and smiles were to me.  But, they took what could have been an incredibly stressful, embarrassing situation and helped make it bearable.  Their gift to me was priceless.

As I began driving for home with a howling three year old in the back of the mama van I continued to steep in the beauty of the gift these strangers had given to me.  Then it hit me.  How often throughout my day am I presented with opportunities to be the gift giver?  Do I take seize or squander these moments.

 It was then that I realized I had underestimated the power of these small acts of blessing.  That too often I  have carelessly breezed by these opportunities to sprinkle blessing with out a second thought. 

This realization forced me to ask myself "why?"  Why do I waste these moments that are pregnant with possibility.  Why would I pass up the opportunity to give the gifts of  peace, of grace, of joy, of love to the people that I encounter.  Several reasons came to mind. 

  •  I get too busy and preoccupied with my own "stuff"
When I allow my world to start spinning too fast.  When I stuff my days as full as possible and then try to fit a few more things in.  When I allow my overflowing and oozing to-do list to dominate my mind and minutes.   When I allow perceived chaos to be my master I inadvertently put on my self-centered blinders just trying to make it through the day. And when I do,  I miss out on the opportunity to be the gift giver.

  • I get nervous or embarrassed
"What will she think of me if I say something?"  "I'm going to look like an idiot if I stop to see if they need help."  " I haven't even showered today, I really don't want to be seen like this."  I hate to admit how many times thoughts like these cross my mind.  Selfishness is such a sly deceiver.  It tricks me into believing that this moment is all about me.

The reality is that it doesn't matter what  the other person thinks about me.  Maybe she will think that I am a total loser for talking to her,  But maybe she won't.  Maybe, she needs to hear that it's okay, that she is not alone, that someone cares.  

  • I believe the lie that it doesn't matter
I pass someone on the sidewalk walking Myles into school.  It takes very little effort to smile and say good morning. 
When leaving school for the day, it takes  just a fraction of a minute to sincerely thank my child's teacher for the incredibly hard work that she does.  
It only takes me being brave enough to break the awkward silence to ask the cashier how her day is going.

These are not earth shattering encounters, but they are powerful none the less.  Our days are full of these brief encounters.  Opportunities to make someones day just a little bit easier. These moments do matter.

When I choose to slow down, put myself aside, and believe that these moments are significant I realize that these windows of opportunity allow others to have a glimpse of the Jesus who loves them more than anything.  How could I not want to be a part of that?


  1. I love this. Shifting the focus off of ourselves and on to someone else. Lately I've been trying something I use to be quite shy about doing, and that's shaking someone's hand when I first meet them. I think it's making a difference! I feel like just that tiny bit of contact brings me a bit closer to the person. I use to only do it if they extended their hand. Now I initiate....and I'm glad I do.

    1. That's very cool! What a neat way to make a connection with people!

  2. Oh and I love this pic of Bo. He is so darn cute.

  3. Next time I'm totally going to thank that smiley man at the north side Meijer. How friendly is that guy? Makes my day!

  4. Thanks for sharing this experience, Anne. You make some very good points. Definitely worth thinking about and being aware of.

  5. Thanks for sharing this experience, Anne. You make some very good points. Definitely worth thinking about and being aware of.

  6. So true, Anne! I'm more often the mom with a screamer than a content child in the store. I love it when other moms, especially grandmas, tell me that it's okay, that we'll survive, and that they've been there. When I do have the rare chance to have only one smiley baby, I make sure to be kind and smile at the other moms with the screamers throwing food from the cart. You're right, it means more than we'll ever know.

    Also, we ended up going to story hour today because Mark stayed home with Tessie. After about five minutes in the huge cirlce (it was even bigger than last week), Adam whispered to me, "Mom, I can't see Boston. I can't see him today." It was so cute! Hope to see you next week.


    1. Awww, how sweet! Boston really enjoys going, we are planning on being there this Friday.

  7. Receiving that kind of gift from others has encouraged me to become a giver. I never know when the smallest thing - like a simple smile - will change someone's day. Thank you for the reminder.

    I remember sitting next to a stranger on a plane as I was going through divorce. This person simply told me that I would make it through - that they had survived. Simple. Encouragement. Made a difference.

    1. What a neat story! So often it seems that our times of deepest pain enable us to be able to give encouragement to someone else. Thanks for sharing!