My mom was THE BEST gift giver. I have yet in my life to encounter another person that has so precisely planned, thought out and picked more prefect gifts for me than she could. It was like a special gift all in its own — this ability she had to give something I never even knew I wanted and yet in the receiving it was like I had wished for it my whole life. Whether it was the porcelain doll for Christmas when I was a child, the keepsake necklace for my high school graduation, or the set of pots and pans in my favorite color when I moved into my first rent house — she just knew. (I maintain the stance that this was her way of urging me to cook more! It worked.) However, in the wake of her death 2 years ago, I came to realize that the greatest gift she’d ever given me, was that of her own self.
Her love. Her knowledge. Her wisdom. Her faith. Her integrity. Her humor. Her tears. Her smile. Her compassion. Her devotion. Her life. 27 years of pouring herself into me. Phillip Yancy best captures this realization for me in his book The Question That Never Goes Away — Why? :
“… (Momma) was a gift, pure and simple, something I neither earned nor deserved nor had a right to. And when I remember that the appropriate response to a gift, even when taken away, is gratitude, then I am better able to try and thank God that I was ever given her in the first place.”
She was the gift. Pure and simple. I did nothing to earn her. I did not deserve her. But, oh how grateful I am to have had her. SHE was the best gift I have every received. I love that her life points me back to Jesus. This was her life passion in its self — to point others to Jesus. “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24. She nailed it. She chose to take a road not many others do and to give her life away to others instead of living it for herself, all in efforts to point them to Jesus. How strongly this realization of her freely given gift echoes that of the free gift of Jesus’ life to us as well. This is the goal. To mirror Jesus; to live life in a way that leads others to Him — the ultimate gift.
A little-known fact is that my Mom was a lover and writer of poetry. I did not inherit this gene! For that reason, I completely credit her as the reason I passed the poetry block of my high school AP English class. Her favorite poem was The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. I can recount, as a young child, her sharing this with me as a challenge to set my own life apart — just as she had. To always take the road less traveled — in all areas of life. In this particular case, to love big and invest my life in others. To make deposits into those God has set around me — spiritually, emotionally and physically — as she did. To give it all, because after all, in the giving is where we truly receive. As Mother’s Day approaches, my challenge to myself and to you is to be aware and appreciative of those around you who invest into you in this way and to, in turn, choose to be both the gift and the giver to others. Sometimes our greatest gift costs nothing but turns out to be a priceless treasure.
Mom gave me the gift of her life well lived on the road less traveled and that has made all the difference.
With a Grateful Heart,
“…I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
-Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken – excerpt