This week has been AMAZING.
First, working to secure our KIVU Gap Year destinations in Jordan, and spending time with a dear friend in the region has been incredible. I'm learning so much, it can't really be culled in a blog post, but for now....
I'm learning from people in the Middle East who are recognizing the importance of caring for people intentionally. They've long given up merely loving people as they try desperately to find common threads of existence. Now, there are people who are intentionally trying to develop relational needs, emotional needs, and critical care methods to begin healing the great divide plaguing their communities.
As I sit and listen to Christians giving to Jews, and Jews giving to Muslims, and Muslims giving to Christians all around; there's a sense that our world back home is in need of learning how to love intentionally. This region is giving me a Masters Degree course on how to Love people.
We try our best to intuitively give to those around us, but my constant personal battle is learning how to make it count. The questions I'm wrestling with is, "How do I meet the relational needs of those around me? AND Am I meeting them where they need to be met?"
Last night I had a conversation with a Middle Eastern Christian Man who helped me see a new principle. "If you give your wife a gift, that's step one. But if you give her something she doesn't want or desire, then you may be inviting more pain into your relationship. You may give her a gift, but if it's the wrong gift she may notice you don't really know her at all. So when she decides to voice an opinion 'Thank you' but disregards the gift with a less than excited response, my natural reaction is 'I TRIED for goodness sake.' But in relationships 'I TRIED' isn't good enough. 'I TRIED' is sloppy. 'I TRIED' is second best. Knowing someone intimately should produce a gift that they know you took time to think about and meet their needs."
I thought about how many times I've blown this in my own family. Coming right off Christmas, I wonder how many of you have blown this principle. We just bought an insane amount of gifts, but for what? So we can say 'Look what I bought you. I'm a good person?' We spent an inordinate amount of resources to check the box of Christmas gifts because somehow we believe it's our duty, not our deep desire to meet the needs of people around us. What a WASTE!!!
How many of those types of gifts wind up in the trash can by now because they had no intrinsic meaning tied to the giver. If we were truly concerned about the people we gave our presents to, we would have known exactly the right gift to fill their heart with joy. And isn't that what Christmas is all about anyway? Giving gifts to give gifts is almost like walking outside on a nice day and saying, "Hey, it's a nice day out." Everyone knows it's a nice day. But if we truly took time to feel the sunshine on our skin, take a deep breath from the cool crisp air, and allow the nature around us to take our minds to a wonderful place of creation; we could say "Hey it's a nice day out" and deep within our soul be grateful for what a truly beautiful life we have.
Everyone likes to be given things, but the right gift is a wonderful step towards intentionally caring about those around us. It begins to form bonds of trust when people sense a deep emotional connection to the gifts we give. Then and only then will the giver be as grateful as the recipient.
I asked my friend, "So how do you know what the right gift is for my wife?"
"Have you asked her?" He said with a simplicity that would profoundly blow my proverbial brain out of my head.
"Well, there's that..." I responded.
I'm such an idiot.