I Have No Gift To Bring
Another year has come to a close and a new one is shimmering in the glow of expectation. In keeping with a new year’s tradition of reflection, I find myself looking back at the moments 2018 has birthed and the people who have added to the experience. It has been a big year!
Hubby and I downsized to a smaller and ‘empty’ nest. I completed writing THE book and started sharing my story to live audiences. Career challenges have been too many to count and I am still wearily navigating those tricky waters. AND, this is my last year of being ‘forty-something’. Yes. All of this has made 2018 feel a bit much at times!
I feel fortunate to have been allowed so many opportunities to walk alongside people who were hurting this year. Recently, a young woman confided in me that she felt ‘lost’. Although she could not say whether anything was wrong or what was making her feel that way, her overwhelming sense was she was not alright. I empathized with this intelligent, sweet and delicate lady, who probably just needed a hug and to share her heart.
Now, I am not a counselor, but I do think my face has a particular type of DNA coding, which subliminally tells people they have arrived at exactly the right place to unburden all their cares. Hubby chuckles when I get on the phone for the third or fourth time in a week, talking through all manner of stressful topics with folks who are looking for help, and he sometimes calls me Lucy.
I am happy to listen to people. I am happy to sit in uncomfortable silence. I am encouraged when searching for ways to uplift others, but sometimes I feel way over my head. I smiled at this young lady and was willing to bear witness to her soft tears, but what help could I really be? My face may say ‘come talk to me’, but my brain does not feel equipped to say something back.
Questions run through my mind like: What is helpful? What is responsible? What sounds right? What sounds wrong? WWOAJD? (What Would Oprah And Jesus Do?) 😉
Since the exploration of Cleverness in Week 41, I know there is a lot more to intelligence than just getting the answers right. And there is certainly more to discerning timely life wisdom than writing a book, or blogging for 3 years.
Unsettled. That is my current state. 365 days have passed, and I am still no closer to an estranged son than last year. Finding 52 has turned into my soon to be released book, Finding Her Stuff – a goal I thought would bring ‘cred’ to my voice and launch my confidence into another stratosphere.
Agonizing over the edits and revisions of the book made me quite irritable – feeling mad at myself for taking so long, guilty for ignoring other things, and fighting with that little voice in my head that was sure all this time and effort would end in complete failure. The entire focus and hard-fought battles to become a better version of myself, was called into question – like Finding 52 never existed at all!
Very unsettling – indeed.
With perfect timing, a little message appeared on my social media. A cousin, who equals my passion for music, shared a video. I admit, often when people share video or memes, I scroll right by. Not feeling able to view a post in its entirety, I have liked posts without knowing exactly what it is I am liking.
This time, something prompted me to put on my glasses, turn off the mute, and listen to a 4 minute version of The Little Drummer Boy, recorded live by For King and Country. The sentiment was simple and pure.
Wait… what is that stirring in my unsettled mind telling me to do now?
How do I drum? This is not my talent or skill, I am not educated, experienced or physically able to do this to any degree of accuracy. This is not the gift I bring.
And it is also not the point.
The story I hear in the lyrics of this classic carol, begins with an invite to a boy. He is to be among a gathering of wise and mysteriously holy people who have traveled a great distance to witness the birth of a new life. The boy could not have guessed the scene about to unfold before his eyes, yet answered the spontaneous invite. Separated by significant gaps in social status and age, this young man simply shows up. It probably didn’t take long for him to notice the others had brought expensive gifts for this new family, the price of which could keep them sustained for several years. He brought nothing. Talk about being out-gifted!
This reminds me of a young boy who attended one of my kids birthday parties. Well after the festivities had started, I noticed a boy pacing the front of our street, looking into yards expectantly. When we waved him inside, not only was he the only 8 year old boy to show up, but he had come without parents and without a gift. This may have been his first exposure to a Canadian birthday party scene, having recently immigrated from Sudan. But he was welcome – so very welcome to join the party and ended up making the girls laugh hysterically with his awkward sense of humor.
I can imagine the little drummer boy this way. Fumbling a bit while looking at all the gifts laid out before a baby king. His nervous fingers searching through empty pockets before realizing the only thing he owns is a drum slung around his shoulder. Asking for permission to play would have been more than intimidating, but he persisted, in order to give the only thing he could. The beat of a song. My mind unfolds this scene with masterful power AND comfort.
I still hear the encouraging words spoken from another cousin while I was deciding if writing was a good idea. She said, if stories were coming out of me, then I should write them down.
And so I did.
Without a particular talent. Without practice. Without an agenda. Just a willingness to share a simple thing within the grasp of my fingers.
With joy. With love. With respect for people who are really good at it and for those who just enjoy keeping a beat.
This year, instead of wondering if we are adequate in the gifts we bring to ‘the party’ – to work – to our family – to our friends – to the world, may we be reminded:
Accept the Invite.
Give it all you Got.
That IS the Gift.
Now for Love’s sake, let’s go drum our hearts out!