The idea of gifting as a blessing or determining that I might raise my hand to accept a gift as a week-long experiment in receiving and passing it along doesn’t come naturally to me. When Vanessa invited the men in the congregation to accept her gift, it never even occurred to me to raise my hand. Just then, the love of my life and the woman who knows me best (my wife Sara), whispered in my ear, “raise your hand.” I’ve always trusted her vision and knew better to ignore her suggestion, especially after 24 years of marriage. Up shot my arm. I accepted the gift gracefully although I didn’t know that it was a gift of a tie.
This week I wore my emerald green tie 3 times. I received 5 compliments and shared the story behind the tie just once. It was a week of blessings for me. I wouldn’t have imagined this to be the case. The compliments felt kinda cool. I don’t usually get compliments on ties. What was different about this one? It wasn’t a color that I would have chosen for myself. “Hmmm, maybe this was a blessing, that I should pay attention to,” I said to myself after the 3rd compliment. In my professional life, as a friend and a Dad, I see myself as a giver to others versus one who receives particularly well or welcomes gifts or feels particularly deserving of them. In social situations, particularly at Christmas time, I’ll graciously accept gifts and, in the moment, feel grateful and appreciative. I’ll even allow myself to enjoy them. There was a part of me that felt resistant to wearing a tie that wasn’t of my choosing. However, I raised my hand to choose the blessing of it all so it was mine to wear or mine to keep hidden in the closet until next Sunday. I decided on the former. I actually liked the playfulness of the experiment. I loved the spiritual lesson of receiving, enjoying and passing on a gift. I even submitted the annual pledge drive card in week two of the drive (in 16 years as a member I’ve never done this). It was the blessing of that damn tie that made me do it. After seven days with my gift, as I put it neatly back into the box and gift bag, primping it to make it all pretty in preparations for passing on to the next deserving member, I felt a twinge of regret. Nothing like a ton of bricks, mind you. More like a subtle voice, whispering “maybe you should go to Macy’s and actually buy this tie.” I liked the idea of passing along my gift to the next unsuspecting recipient. I hope he enjoys his blessing as much as I did.
It was a week of blessings for me. Five compliments, one very big insight on receiving and giving and handing in my pledge card on time. Nothing huge, earth shattering or life altering. It felt good. It was fun. It wasn’t what I would have expected. All of this because I raised my hand to say, “I accept the gift.”
Thank you, Neal! Come hear what the Youth did with the Experiment this week!