At this time of year, it is only natural to think of gifts. Gift-giving is a treasured part of Christmas. While we may not enjoy fighting the crowds at the mall or trying to think of a creative new present for the person who has everything, most of us do try to give gifts that will show our loved ones how much we care for them. We may even be wishing for a certain special something with our own name on it this holiday season.
But what about the gifts that God has given us? How often do we pay attention to those? Are we like the servants in Matthew 25 who take their talents and invest them in order to reap a rich reward, or are we the foolish servant who takes his talent and buries it?
God has blessed each of us with a selection of gifts perfectly suited to who we are and the role we are to play in this world. Sometimes it can be so easy to focus on what we don’t have, rather on what we do. We may look at someone else and wish that we had her gifts. How often have we looked longingly at other people and thought, “If only I had her brains, her ability to give, her way with people, her artistic ability, her athletic ability, her patience, her strength to stand up for what she believes in, etc.?” That gets us nowhere.
Rather, let us take a look at what gifts God has given us. Try this exercise. Take out a sheet of paper and begin to list your special talents. You may have obvious ones – such as being able to sing well or play the piano. Perhaps you are good at numbers, or good with your hands. Maybe you can teach well or market a product better than anyone you know. Now, think beyond the obvious. Are you kindhearted? Forgiving? A good listener? Able to make people laugh? These, too, are gifts, and through them we can make great contributions to this world. Lastly, ask yourself, “How can I build on these natural gifts that I have been given? How can I better utilize them to make a difference in someone’s life?”
The wonderful thing is that no matter our age or our health or our financial situation, we all have something to give to this world. Just this weekend, our pastor celebrated an elderly woman in our parish who had spent the summer knitting 120 pairs of mittens for the poor in our community! What an amazing gift! She truly put her gift to use for God’s kingdom. On the opposite end of the age spectrum, a young child can give a hug or make someone a picture and totally make another person’s day.
We all matter. In God’s plan, we all have a part. This Christmas, while we are busy buying and making tangible gifts, let’s also take a closer look at the gifts that God has given, and grace the world with all that we have to offer.
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur is editor of The Spiritual Woman Newsletter (www.spiritualwoman.net) and the corresponding blog http://firstname.lastname@example.org