Earlier this week, I went to a funeral. During the service, the younger brother of the man we were there to honor stood up to speak. As he stood behind the podium, his voice shaking a little as he spoke about his brother, he looked out at the crowd and locked eyes with a group of men who had been his brother’s college teammates.
“You were his friends and his brothers,” he said. “But really, you were his heroes. And because you were his heroes, you were mine, too.”
There it was: a gift.
On this day of all days, he could have stood behind the podium and let his words focus on himself, the depth of his own loss and grief. But in a moment, he gave a gift to men his brother had loved.
A gift of graciousness. Of kindness.
In our world, it’s so easy to become focused on ourselves, our needs, our issues, our problems, joys and concerns that we don’t see the needs of others. To become so focused on what we want to say next in the conversation that we don’t even listen to what the other person has to say. To be so intent on what we’re doing or what we’re interested in, that we roll right past the friend who is hurting, who simply needs someone to notice.
So this week, rather than to focus solely on ourselves, let’s seek to give gifts. Gifts of graciousness and kindness.
The gift of listening before we speak.
The gift of inclusion.
The gift of patience, respect and honor.
When we find ourselves turning inward and our own needs and concerns become our only focus, let’s ask God to open our eyes to the needs and concerns of those around us so we can give gifts.