the giver

December 26, 2006

My brother made me cry. No, he didn’t pull my ponytail, take away my Barbie doll, or call me a sissy . . .
Rather, he gave me a gift. And this gift brought tears to my eyes. Not so much because of the gift itself; more so, it was because of what it made me realize about my brother. Suddenly my baby brother has become a thoughtful, and intentional, young man. Granted, the apparent suddenness of this transformation is probably largely due to my distance from him during his recent adult years, but each encounter with his “grown-up” self catches me off guard all the same.
This particular encounter began with his shopping for the other brother. For the few days prior to Alex’s arrival, Ian had been on a quest for a full-size paint-by-number kit. It took some time to locate what he was looking for but, in his typical laid back way, he would not be daunted by the number of stores that he did not have success with. And finally, he found it. Alex was not expecting this and, truthfully, he wasn’t sure what to make of it when he first opened it. Ian explained that a roommate of his had done one a while back, and that Ian had seen it, been impressed, and thought Alex would enjoy it.
What I see in this instance is Ian’s quiet thoughtfulness. He knows Alex is a dabbler of sorts, always interested in trying something new—from ballroom dance to water polo, from barber shop quartet to poetry writing, my high school math teaching brother is always up for a new challenge. Painting is one area in which he has not yet had any experience, and it is a difficult one to jump into for someone who doesn’t necessarily have a great amount of patience with what may seem at first like failure. But he will be thrilled to be able to hang a piece of his own artwork on the wall of his new apartment, and paint-by-number will be an easy initiation into an otherwise possibly inaccessible art, relatively speaking. And Ian knew that. So he set his sights on the perfect gift and drove the hour-long trek to get to the store that carried it.
As for my gift . . . I opened the small package to find a uniquely formed blue and gold cream pitcher. I held it up admiring it and thinking about how I didn’t actually own one, and how it matches the set of dinnerware that I use daily at my place. As I did, Ian explained, with a laughing apology, that he had bought that for me back when he went to South Africa and had forgotten to give it to me till now. Then I saw that there was something inside the pitcher; he had placed a neat roll of bills that I realized amounted to a significant chunk of change. He had decided to contribute to the purchase of my first personal computer, and had done so in a very generous manner. That is when I cried, being overwhelmed by his kindness, utterly impressed by his maturity, and humbled by my own tendency to worry. I so quickly lose trust in God’s goodness, and in His provision, and sometimes He catches me off guard by using those closest to me to teach me [again!] that lesson.

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