Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Gift that Changes the World

I was a teenager when the miracle of CableVision came to town.  If you were willing to pay, you could have more than the standard three (free) channels on TV.  You could have movie channels.

In the beginning, it seems like Cable TV was marketed primarily by door to door salesmen.  One afternoon I answered the door to a young man ready to set my family up with CABLE TV.  I was starry eyed at the idea of movies movies movies.  And okay, I was a teenage girl - I thought he was cute.  He expertly explained how easily this miracle could happen.  Yes!  It was possible!  He was professional.  He was confident.  He was ready to close the deal.

Then my Dad entered the room.  My Dad (you know, the one who pays the bills?) was having none of it. Cable TV was foolishness and a waste of time and money in his book.  Over the course of about 30 seconds, I watched the salesman go from polished professional to dorky highschool kid wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and yes, it's true ... a hat made out of beer cans that had been crocheted together.

I think I remember this day so vividly because of the astounding transition I witnessed. The boy went from hotshot salesman to wet dishrag and left with far less spring in his step than when he arrived on our door. I felt sorry for him.  What made that happen?

I think it was the Gift of Sight.

I saw the boy as a legitimate professional, offering a valuable service that I wanted.  My Dad saw him as a punky, full of himself kid.  Maybe my Dad and I were both right.  

Except for the professional part - because what professional in their right mind wears a hat made out of beer cans when they're on the job?  And what kind of Grandma crochets beer can hats?  But ... I digress.  

I was willing to see the young man the way he wanted to be seen: professional, confident and polished - and so he was.  That's the Gift of Sight.

My Dad saw the young man as someone bothering him in the privacy of his own home, trying to sell him something he didn't want.  And so ... after a brief moment of being flustered and trying but failing to hold on to the person he wanted to be ... he lost it.

When my kids were little and we encountered people in public who weren't on their best behavior, I taught my children to give people their privacy by looking away.  Sometimes that's the best you can do for the child throwing a public tantrum or the angry customer giving the salesclerk a piece of their mind.

But sometimes, when they're not at their best, people need the Gift of Sight.  Sometimes they need someone to see them with eyes of grace, that see them for who they're meant to be and that see them as their best anyway.

I watched my son handle placing a pizza order last weekend with the Gift of Sight.  The girl who answered the phone was super awkward and stilted, but my son talked to her with considerable charm as if she were the best order taker on the planet.  By the end of the phone call, she had loosened up and was putting some effort into being personable, right down to saying, "Have a um, merry um ... uh ... new year!"  :o)

The Gift of Sight can also come to you indirectly.  I grew up in a relatively small town, and if people didn't know you personally, they probably knew who you were, or who your parents were.  As a kid, this was occasionally inconvenient.  But experienced as an adult, I felt the hugely positive effect.  People knew my parents, and they were dearly loved for good reason.  I felt blessedproud for my family and my mom and dad, and it made me want to be good.  Not good as in not-naughty ... good as in fine and upstanding. Looking at me through the lens of my family, people gave me the Gift of Sight, and that made me want to reach for their high opinion of me.

Every morning we get up intending to be our best self.  Some days we come close to it.  Some days ... well, some days are just days.  But our best self is in there just the same.  The cherished child of God, the one created to be exceptional and worthy and loveable and good, is in there just the same.  It's the people that have the grace to see our best self - sometimes in spite of our selves - who help us return to it when we've lost it.  They call us back to our God-breathed uniqueness and our God-inspired greatness.

This year I'm going to change the world by giving the Gift of Sight.  Grace, offered most especially in those moments when we're not at our best ... that's a gift that changes the world.

Shared joy is doubled joy ... let's double the joy for both of us - what are you most grateful for today? Click below to leave your comment. I'll go first :

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