I hadn’t planned on making this greatest gift thing a series, but that’s exactly where it’s headed. One evening in mid-December, when I hinted to my husband that I wanted fairy lights for Christmas, my daughter overheard. Then she privately asked him not to get them for me.
She wanted to give me a set for my writing room window because she heard me bemoan the day when I needed to take down the Christmas lights.
Light’s a scarce commodity during a West Coast winter. Rain tumbles down as loud and forceful as a child thrumming on a new set of drums. (Don’t ask me how I know this. The good news is that child grew into a young man whose drumming is welcome in my home any time.)
The gloom of our coastal midwinters can soak your soul. And not in a good way.
On the morning I strung the lovely fairy lights around my window, we’d had so much rain that people were being warned to be careful while walking along rivers and creeks. All the tributaries flowed fast due to high-water levels.
Another warning was needed. People needed to pay attention to their mental health too. Dark damp weather is not only good for growing mushrooms, but it also grows mold in the minds of people. Fuzziness of thoughts and negative emotions flourish in such unfavorable-to-joy conditions.
That morning, before I framed the window with light—the window that overlooked a mossy lawn—my husband needed a gift from me. He shared some things that were heavy on his heart, things I couldn’t lift either. Sensing his need to be heard, I listened. Quietly.
I’d been waiting for him to share his mind about whatever was bothering him. Sometimes we need to open the cellar door and let some light and oxygen in. We can’t keep it all inside and expect stale air to sustain us. When we confess our concerns to someone we trust, we find out the cellar still has a lot of goodness that hasn’t gone bad. There’s still hope for today and for tomorrow. We’re not alone. Not now. Not ever.
He spoke. I listened. He found good words to follow his difficult ones. My job was to listen and wait.
Sometimes the best gift we can give someone is to listen long enough for that person to find light in the middle of their darkness. And while we wait, God shines soothing truth into their soul.
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in the darkness.” John 12:46 NIV
Most people crave attentive ears and fewer sermons. Our biggest job is to keep silent so they can hear the Holy Spirit speak.
He paused and smiled, “You’re just listening. Aren’t you?”
“Good for you,” he said. “And by the way, you always look lovely in the mornings.”
What he didn’t know was I had been up early and long enough to have already done my spiritual and physical grooming. The light peach lipstick on my lips matched the warm joy in my heart. And having him say I did something good for him added a brightness to my eyes no mascara could ever outlash or outlast.
What my man also didn’t know was that I had listened to what he hinted for. What he wanted for Christmas. Except that I bought it and tucked it away for his birthday which was later in December. Since I had already gotten him some other things, I wanted to save the hinted item as a treat. I didn’t know if he remembered that he hinted at it, but I knew he’d enjoy it.
What could warm the heart and tummy again and again on a batch of cold winter days better than a gift certificate from your favorite bakery?
The gift of listening is a gift that keeps on giving too. It invites the speaker to trust there’s a set of warm and welcoming ears waiting for them whenever they need to tell the story that’s on their heart. We lighten each other’s loads when we allow each other to unload the stuff that’s weighing us down. No interruptions. No unsolicited sermons. Just attentiveness that speaks wordless love.
To listen to someone when they share what’s in their cellar is to shine a light, so they don’t trip on their way out. To listen without offering words of our own hangs fairy lights around a heavy heart, so joy shines in.
And now I’d like to close with a poem:
Help us believe so bright
That darkness is burned away
And overcome by Your Light
As we pray and obey
Help us step into the roles
You have for us this day
So we fulfill godly goals
In a glorious way.
Blessings of His Light in Your Life ~ Wendy Mac
P.S. I’m nosy-to-know how you brighten your house up during January and February?
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8 thoughts on “What’s the Greatest Gift We Can Give Part 2”
Your writing speaks to my soul, Wendy. I especially love this: To listen to someone when they share what’s in their cellar is to shine a light, so they don’t trip on their way out. To listen without offering words of our own hangs fairy lights around a heavy heart, so joy shines in.
Thank you & blessings, dear Kathleen. Shining the listening light is one of the best things the Holy Spirit is teaching me. And He’s the one who keeps the batteries charged when we submit our hearts to Him each day.
I love the idea of hanging fairy lights around a heavy heart! <3
Every Christmas we would have electric "candles" in every window, and one year I decided to just leave them. After all, candles can light up any day of the year – birthdays, anniversaries, or "just because." Recently a neighbor across the street commented how much she loved looking over at our house and seeing the candles in the windows. 🙂
Thank you, dear Annie, for sharing such a lovely idea. You’ve inspired me to go ahead and leave the fairy lights in our dining room window up all winter. They are so cheery on a gloomy day.
My (our) tradition is to put up Christmas decorations the 1st day of Advent and take them down the day after Epiphany. This year some of our neighbours still have their lights on. One neighbour has taken them down and we realized how we appreciated those lights now that the house across the yard is in darkness at our breakfast time.
As a counselor I often told people who were working through some things to talk to their best friend, who will almost always turn out to be a wonderful counselor, listening and knowing all about you. Odd, isn’t it, that Jesus, Who knows us best and loves us the most, is too often neglected when we need to talk to someone. Prayer is not an exercise; it is face-time with our bestie!
Again I thank God for your writing.
Thank you for this lovely thought: “Face-time with our bestie!”
It doesn’t get any better than that. He’s the best in every way.
Blessings for 2023 to you and your family.
Thank you & blessings.