Giving gifts is an important part of every healthy relationship. Gifts come in many different forms and for a variety of reasons, and most don’t even require a special occasion. In this article we want to explore a few of the different kinds of gifts that mean so much to the receivers.
Gifts for a Missionary
Recently we attended a small gathering in the home of friends to hear their granddaughter report on her mission. She shared many choice experiences she had with investigators, members, and companions. At one point she told how much her letters from her grandfather had meant to her. Looking directly at him, she said, “Your words continually inspired me to work hard and be the best possible missionary I could be. I loved your letters.” She added, “And it didn’t hurt that tucked inside each letter was a few dollars. Thank you again, Grandpa.” This continuous gift of love from her grandfather had blessed her immeasurably. It doesn’t take much to send a few dollars to a missionary, but it takes time to write inspiring and helpful letters to go along with it. That makes it a double gift. However, in the end, the words of encouragement were the most priceless gift, and that’s something we all can give to the missionaries we know and pray for. Now that we mention it, praying for a missionary is a vital gift. Let them know you’re giving it.
Back to the story, as this lovely missionary sister concluded, she bore her testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the joy of teaching about His restored Church. With tears streaming down her cheeks she told of the love she felt for the people she taught and for the companions she served with. At that moment, many tears were being shed and we knew we had just been given a heavenly gift. Her testimony had grown step by step, day by day throughout her mission and years before. It had been a long walk; sometimes very difficult. She had paid the price. The sharing of her heart-felt testimony was a priceless gift, and everyone who was there will cherish it.
Of course, the most profound gift was the gift she gave the many people she taught and helped bring to the waters of baptism. It was obvious that the giving of this gift had filled her heart to over flowing.
Gifts for a Teacher
The giving of gifts through personal effort and sacrifice reminds us of the story of an African boy who wanted to give a gift to his teacher, who was going home to England . The child had no money and his options were limited. The day before the teacher was to leave, the child brought her a huge seashell. The teacher asked the boy where he could have found such a shell. He told her there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found, and when he named the place, a certain bay many miles away, the teacher was speechless.
“Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”
His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.”
President Thomas S. Monson told of another student whose gift touched the heart of a teacher. He said, “the story is told of a group of men who were talking about people who had influenced their lives and to whom they were grateful. One man thought of a high-school teacher who had introduced him to the poet Tennyson. He decided to write and thank her.
In time, written in a feeble scrawl, came this letter:
“My dear Willie:
“I can’t tell you how much your note meant to me. I am in my 80s, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely and like the last leaf lingering behind. You will be interested to know that I taught school for 50 years, and yours is the first note of appreciation I have ever received. It came on a blue, cold morning, and it cheered me as nothing has for years.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Treasured Gifts,” Ensign, Dec 2006, 4-10)
Sometimes the long walk is a searching out of an address, and then taking the time to write a message of gratitude that may mean everything to the receiver. A true gift of love.
Gifts for Your Spouse
Look around you today and see the many gifts that have come your way because of someone’s long walk for you. “Long walk” in most cases is simply other words for sacrifice, as is evident in the following example (name changed for privacy).
I had not felt well for several weeks. I kept thinking that whatever was making me ill would go away and so I hadn’t gone to the doctor. One day I just lay in my bed feeling ill and depressed. My parents had both died of cancer and I was beginning to have worries that I would be next. I was softly crying when my husband, Bernie, came into the bedroom to check on me.
When he asked how I was doing I burst into full-blown sobs. He sat on the edge of the bed and held me in his arms for a minute. Then he knelt by the bed, held my hand, and said to me, “I feel so helpless. I don’t know what to do, except pray.”
He then prayed the sweetest, most tender prayer in my behalf that I had ever heard him utter. It touched me deeply and filled me with overwhelming love for him.
When he got up he kissed me and left the room. He knew I had not felt like eating all that day. A short time later he returned with a plate. He said, “I thought you might enjoy some of Uncle Bernie’s’ delicious mashed potatoes.” (He often referred to himself as “Uncle Bernie.”) He knew I loved the way he buttered and seasoned mashed potatoes. They were irresistible. It was exactly what I needed. I don’t know if saying the prayer had helped him think of it, or what, but the combination of the prayer and the potatoes was very healing. (From Love That Lasts: 14 Secrets to a Joyful, Passionate, and Fulfilling Marriage, to be released by Covenant Communications, April 2009)
This story shows what a powerful gift prayer can be, as well as a good old-fashioned dose of a loved one’s favorite food. Both require effort and sacrifice of time on the part of the giver.
A birthday is always worth celebrating with a gift, especially for your spouse. It can be big and wonderful (without going into debt) or small and thoughtful. Just so you give a loving gift, that’s what matters. A gift means you were thinking of your sweetheart and you wanted to make that perfectly clear. Sometimes it’s hard to find the just-right gift. So ask what he/she would like and get a few suggestions. Or take note of what hints are dropped when the date draws near. Here’s a recently shared experience that makes the point.
My birthday was a few weeks ago and I knew what I wanted: a copy of the book The Joseph Smith Papers. I didn’t drop a hint, I said it right out, plain and simple. The only problem was, which I wasn’t aware of, it would not be an easy acquisition for my husband. He knew the publisher had reprinted the book since selling out at Christmas time and thought surely it would be available. Apparently so did hundreds of other buyers, so when he slipped out quietly a few days before my birthday to do his shopping, there were none to be found.
Anywhere. He went from store to store. Sold out again! Then he started calling stores outside our Provo area. Still no luck. They were all gone. So he ordered one in, to arrive goodness only knew when. I had no idea he was doing all this searching.
What I found out later was that he stayed up late the night before my birthday and, after I went to bed, he went to work on his computer, creating a gift card with the cover of the book on it and a promise that it would be mine as soon as it came in. He put that in a lovely card he bought that gave one of the tenderest messages I’d ever read. He was doing all in his power to make up for not being able to get the gift in time.
When I opened the card the next day and saw his beautiful home-made gift card, I realized how hard he had worked to make this gift happen for me. I loved it. The fun part is that the book arrived in the store that very afternoon and we drove immediately to get it. It was the perfect gift, particularly when I knew what he’d gone through to make it happen.
This is clearly another example of “long walk part of gift.”
Many of you have probably already seen the movie Fireproof, which is now out on DVD. We bought it as soon as it was released and highly recommend it for all couples. It will fill your mind with ways to give deeply meaningful gifts of love to your spouse, and thus fortify and bless your marriage forever. To briefly explain, in the movie the father of a man, a firefighter whose wife is threatening divorce, encourages his son to accomplish specific tasks he calls the 40 Day Love Dare journey. He promises a miracle in his marriage if he will do it with diligence and prayer. One of his love dares is this: “Ask yourself what your mate would want if it was obtainable. Commit this to prayer, and start mapping out a plan for meeting some (if not all) of [her] desires, to whatever level you possibly can.”
This is a great suggestion for all of us who want to please our spouse and enrich our marriage-and we’re hoping that’s every married person who is reading this article.. All of these suggestions, the love dares, are done without going into any debt, just simply using available resources that are specifically targeted to please your mate. These are the gifts that sometimes do take a long walk, and others that simply take a moment of thoughtful consideration. They become the gifts that capture the heart. You’ll love this movie. And-you guessed it-it makes a great gift.
Gifts for Your Children
We’re not writing about gifts for your children in this article because we want to devote an entire future article to this subject. There’s much more to say about it than we have space for here. We would appreciate it very much if you would send a short account of your most treasured gifts to your children or special gifts you received from your parents and why they meant so much to you. We’ll include as many of them as we can in our article. It’ll be fun to learn from each other. Please send them to us at [email protected]” target=”_blank”>[email protected]Now on to the final two gifts.
Gifts for Your Parents
Some of the most treasured gifts we have received from our grown-up children have come in the cards and letters they’ve sent us. There is nothing quite so cherished as loving words from your child, no matter the age. As an example, the following message was sent to us by one of our sons recently. Among other more private sentiments he said, “I love you very much and appreciate all you have done and continue to do for me and my family. Thank you for being a great example of love and righteousness!”
Forgive us for this, but these words, even the exclamation point, made us cry. We share it simply to encourage all you grown-up kids out there to show how much tender words like these can mean to your own parents. They are the sweetest gifts you can give, and they will capture the hearts of your parents every time.
In a letter to Meridian Magazine writers, owners Maurine and Scot Proctor told of a cherished gift their daughter recently gave to them. They said:
[O] ur 18-year-old daughter, Mariah, just wrote her first article for Meridian called “Confessions of an In-between-er.” She just became the youngest writer on Meridian . That came about because, we have seen for a very long time that she had a writing gift-and we had begged and pled with her to write a little column for Meridian. Self-conscious and unsure, she resisted. Then for Christmas this year, that was our gift from her. She made a little certificate for us and promised she would take the big plunge and write for Meridian . She knew it would be the most lovely gift for us-and it is.”
This is one of those gifts that could definitely be called a “long walk”. And all of us will be blessed for Mariah giving this gift to her parents. We read her article about being an in-between-er and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since then she has written many more delightful articles. The unwritten part of all this is the gift of Mariah herself. We’ve met her and immediately recognized what a truly lovely young woman she is. The way she lives her life is a gift beyond measure to the parents who adore her so much.
Gifts for and from God
In the end, the way we live our lives is our best possible gift to our loving Father in Heaven. And indeed that is a long walk. It takes our whole lifetime, filled with repenting and trying again and again to keep His commandments. In the process of doing this we are showing our sincerest gratitude to our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, for their love and the glorious gift of the Atonement.
We are reminded of a sacrament meeting a few years ago when a speaker told his experience of sitting next to a man, whom he found out later was not a member of the Church, just visiting. When the sacrament was passed, the visitor took the bread and water and quietly, but audibly said, “Thank you, Jesus.” Hearing this story made us think even more seriously about this sacred ordinance that we so easily take for granted. This humble man understood.
When we consider our Savior’s life and His glorious gift to us, “long walk” hardly describes what He went through. Perhaps long painful walk comes a little closer, but barely touches the magnitude of His suffering. That is the true nature of giving for those who love. Sometimes it requires pain, perhaps even suffering, maybe even, at times, long suffering. And it will always be worth it.
Most often gift-giving isn’t complicated. It’s a simple act that shows your love to someone you hold dear. The more thought you put into it the more joy you and the receiver will experience. Then both hearts will be captured at once.
[To find out more about books, talk CDs, and articles by Gary and Joy Lundberg, including their soon-to-be-released book Love that Lasts, click here.]