Gift giving is a great thing- Whether it’s birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas or “just because” the process of gift giving is a great process for us to go through. Why? Because it takes us- at least momentarily, out of our personality auto-pilot mode, which is usually stuck on asking and then seeking the answers to the question “What Do I Want Now?” When we give gifts- we turn our attention from “What Do I Want” to “What Would He/She Want?” and that shift, in and of itself, is good for our spiritual health. It’s like taking in a nutritious meal after binging on sugary treats for too long.
Of course gift giving, like most things can be done at different levels of depth and meaning. Even at the most surface level, gift giving is a net positive. But I want to invite you to contemplate what the most important gift you could give others is. As I’ve considered this question, the answer I came up with is this: The most important gift you can give others is A BETTER VERSION OF YOURSELF.
Of course this is not a gift that you can wrap up. It’s not even a gift you tell others about. It’s certainly not a gift that can be bought with money. It is a silent commitment made in your heart to grow yourself- to become a better version of yourself. Such a gift gives to all you come in contact with- most especially those you have the most contact with- your spouse, your children, your close family and friends- but even “strangers” you come across in your daily path receive of this gift.
Often “Self-Improvement” is presented in terms of improving the self as a sort of gift to ourselves. I’d like to suggest that a much better way to think about “self-improvement” is as a gift to others. The difference is the intent behind the improvement. When we are making an effort to improve ourselves for the sake of improving ourselves- it’s easy to fall back on old habits and stay in old comfort zones. But when the change is being done as a gift- as an offering to others- or better yet to God, that additional purpose can often be the additional strength we need to make the change.
I’ve found it helpful to think in terms of “giving up” rather than “giving”. What part of me can I “give up” or “get rid of” that if gone would help me give a better version of myself to others and to God? Examples of things we can “give up”: resentments, victim status, worries, anxieties, self-centeredness. Maybe it might include things like sleeping in too late, habitual eating of unhealthy food, complaining, criticizing, etc.
Questions to Ponder
What part of myself could I “give up” that would allow me to give to those I love a better version of myself?
How would giving up that thing bless those around me?