I was struggling with how to be God’s gift to a friend whose marriage is in trouble
A friend of mine called me because his marriage is in trouble. Like, “just about over” in trouble. I was struggling with how to be God’s gift to him.
Part of my struggle is because I wanted to seem like the wise counselor.
So, while I was listening, I was trying to come up with something to say that would sound impressive and wise. In the back of my brain, I was running through all the books I’d read and my previous experience. I did want to help, but I wanted to be the guy who could fix the problem. I wanted him to be glad he called me.
In retrospect, I can see that while I wanted to be a gift to him, I also wanted him to give me the gift of appreciation. I wanted to be a gift so I could feel like a gift. Giving a gift so you can feel a certain way is no way to give a gift.
Unsurprisingly, the impressive and wise response was not forthcoming.
After about 20 minutes of listening in this way, I had no idea what to say.
So, I gave up wanting to offer him my awesome wisdom (which was nowhere to be found). I began to listen with my whole self. I started opening myself up to his situation, to be there in whatever way I could for him. I let my heart go out to him. I tried to walk in his shoes and feel his feelings. I also let my heart go out to his spouse. I tried to let myself get into her emotions and be driven by the things that seemed to be driving her.
After about 20 more minutes, something popped out of my mouth that I did not intend or anticipate: a wise word, a good gift for my friend.
Wisdom came after I had given up on being able to be his wise friend and settled for being his friend. (I’ll tell you what I said at the end of the post.)
This is the important point for me: I nearly missed being a gift to my friend because I wanted to be seen as a gift to my friend.
If you get angry when you don’t get the response you hoped for when you do something for someone else, perhaps you were doing it for you as much as for them.
You are God’s gift to the world. But being God’s gift is not about you.
You are God’s gift to the world the way a hose brings water into the garden. You are the channel through which the living Spirit of God flows into the world. If you try to live as God’s gift to the world because you are “all that,” you will fail. Talented and energetic people may not fail right away. But you will fail.
But if you move into other people’s lives with empathy and compassion, trusting the living Spirit of God to work through you, you will be a gift to them.
Jesus told us that we will be the hose through which living water pours into the world:
Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say. — John 7:38
Jesus shows us God’s true nature: love. When you act in the love that permeates the universe, you will be able to move into people’s lives with empathy and compassion. You will make a difference.
You will be a gift.
Sometimes you might even be given the right thing to say.
Be a gift to people you meet!
PS – In case you are wondering, here’s what I told him: “Don’t try to ‘make it work.’ Make it healthy and see if it works.” He said it was exactly the perspective he needed.
PPS – Would you do me a favor and forward this to people that you think could benefit from it? My goal is to expand my influence in the world to help more people see that they are God’s gifr to the world.