by Wenda Dottridge
You probably live on Mars if you aren't aware of the latest "save-the-planet" fad in our society's newly minted faith in world transformation. But even before regifting became the fourth "R" in the environmental trinity, it was a widely practiced dirty little secret. The environmental movement has made a virtue of passing on an unused gift to some poor unsuspecting friend or relative. In fact, this movement is so popular, it even has it's own youtube "how to" video:
I don't know about you, but somehow I'm not convinced. After all, gifts are well...precious. They don't just take money. They take thought and time and love. And maybe that's the problem. So much "gifting" lacks true sentiment. As a society we're overly generous with stuff but we're stingy with what matters most.
When my mother and aunts moved my grandparents out of the home they'd occupied for almost forty years they had a hard time convincing Grandma to give up so many of her nicknacks. To eveyrone else most of what filled their house was junk, but my grandmother could tell exactly who had given her each precious item in her small home, whether it was a spoon from one of her children's or grandchildren's world travels or a tea cosy I'd sewn for her for Christmas one year. She wasn't much of a hoarder otherwise, but she could never throw away a gift.
I received many precious gifts from my Grandma over the years, a few of them objects, but perhaps one of the sweetest is knowing how much she valued her family and our small gestures of love. To me, that is true regifting!
Her brand of "passing-it-forward" is that other kind of regifting. The eternal kind. The kind that says, "We love because he first loved us...." (1 John 4:19)
I was a Christian a long time before I learned what that meant.
As a fiction writer, I've learned a lot about developing stories around characters. Screenwriting guru Robert McKee probably says it best (although he's also probably the most long-winded) in his book, Story. He says, character is plot and plot is character. That means, the story evolves from the character's decisions and choices. The story is what the character does!
And isn't that just like life. Our lives are not what we say we want to do or who we say we want to be. Our lives are not the label we hang around our necks, the party, club, movement, or denomination we belong to. Our lives are what we do.
I have a ring, as in a piece of jewelry. (I tried to take a picture, but do you know how hard it is to photograh a ring?) It is a very ugly ring, so I don't wear it. But it sits in the top of my jewelry box and I see it every time I open the box to take out a necklace or nicer earrings for a special occasion.
This ugly ring reminds me about a kind of regifting called grace.
There is a long story behind the ring. It involves a hurt, broken woman, stolen property, lies, and then a swindle. To say I was upset and angry about the whole thing would be an understatement. But because this one time I chose to forgive as an example of Christ's forgiveness, a woman came to accept God's grace through Christ. Oh sure, I know there were others involved in her journey to faith, and there were probably many more significant moments in her struggle to accept Christ's love. She might not even remember the whole ring situation. But for me, this ugly ring reminds me that regifting grace can have eternal consequences.
I'm still not convinced regifting actual presents is a good idea. I think it cheapens what gift-giving is for--an expression of love in a tangible form. But I do know that there is one gift we tend to hoard that we should offer more freely. That is the gift of God's grace, of love without limits. When we learn to regift grace all the time, we'll see our lives and our world truly transformed.
Images courtesy of: