When I look back over the years, I am grateful for the gifts given to me. It’s never about the value or the cost of the gift, but it is everything about the intention. The gift might be a diamond necklace or a fresh-baked cookie. It could be a smile or a hug or a card in the mail.
The gifts that really matter; friendship, acceptance, the sharing of ideas, meaningful words and even corny jokes that send us into laughter; are the ones we cherish forever.
But what of the gifts that we give ourselves? We worry too much, we blame ourselves too much, and we belittle ourselves for not being “better.” When we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect, we can forgive others for the same reason. No matter how old we are, somewhere deep inside is the child we once were; fragile, fearful, worried, scared and feeling that we ourselves were “not enough.” It is a gift to ourselves when we can accept ourselves as we are.
When the people we love and trust put their arms around us and tell us that we are loved, it burns away all that self-criticism, fear and sorrow. To be loved for ourselves is a treasure. How many times do we hear “you are wonderful just as you are right now?” How deeply would those words heal so many scars?
These days when I stoop low enough to criticize someone, I immediately feel guilty. I say out loud, “and you are so perfect?” We are humans and we are certainly fallible. We simply do not know what baggage another person is carrying. The gifts that really matter are the ones that we give gladly and honestly. The gifts that we receive are not only something tangible, but a feeling of acceptance, love, appreciation and affection.
Years ago I had a friend who had very high expectations for friendship. She would often tell me that I would be the “perfect friend” if I would only do those things that she suggested and that she “just knew” would raise me up to her own high standards of friendship. It took a while, but I finally cut her out of my life because real friends do not tell you how to live your life, and they don’t try make you into their own “friend puppet.” That’s not friendship; it’s bullying.
We may be imperfect in our own eyes, but to the eyes of those who love us, we are already perfect. And that can be enough.