St. Anthony Messenger

You and Your Health: The Gift of Giving

woman holds a gift

Heather, a recent high school graduate, was returning home one summer night from a friend’s house when she

was hit by a driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel. Heather’s broken neck left her a paraplegic. She could use her hands, but she could not walk and suffered some brain damage. She was about to enter college that fall.

I called Heather several times during her hospital stay. I sent cards and flowers, but I wanted to do more for her. I called and asked her if there was anything she wanted or needed for her upcoming birthday. Her wisdom, at 19 years old, touched me: “I used to like digital games and perfumes. But now I see life differently. I would like to start a fund for families who have lived through devastating accidents.”

I listened with tears and felt like a consumer. I was going to buy her a piece of clothing or a CD. Instead, I donated to her fund. What a transformation at such a young age: she was driven to make a difference in people’s lives.

The Gift Philosophy

Our culture gives many gifts: birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and Christmas. But sometimes the receiver does not want a gift.

This giver/receiver relationship can be complex. Many times people who have had health problems do not want another wallet or nightgown. We need to try to talk honestly with our recipient.

We want to remember them on their birthday or Christmas—and we can. We might visit them with a snack or take them out for a bite to eat. We can try to do relational things for them, such as gathering their friends. Something small or consumable can be personable. We have to respect their gift philosophy.

Perspectives Change

There comes a time in our lives when we change from wanting things to not wanting them. It might be that a person has lived life and has the means to purchase what he or she wants. Or the person’s health has changed his or her outlook, skewing the person into other needs, such as seeing friends and family more frequently. Perhaps a person feels a deep call to help others through a gift to his or her church, a college, hospital, or charity.

A life event can alter a person’s gift philosophy. It reminds me of the “readiness concept.” Things do not happen until all things are in place. A baby cannot walk unless she crawls—these activities prep her for her first steps. Children learn to read after they see the sight words. We heal and recover when our bodies are ready.

John 3:16 reads: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

May our hearts be ready for this perfect gift!

Questions to Ask

  • Are you normally tuned in to what others need?
  • Do you see giving as a privilege rather than an obligation?
  • Do you give out of a sense of obligation or guilt?

Next Month: Beware of Overmedication

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