Do you ever buy nice things for yourself or your home and then when it occurs to you to use them, you think “I don’t want it to get messed up”, so back on the shelf it goes?
That sentiment is all-too-familiar in our home. Just this weekend we hosted a double birthday bash for my husband and I, with a head count of about 35 people. I had a set of 40 fun green chevron print reusable-disposable cloth napkins with a sweet message on them, which I had been holding on to for a special occasion. In the throes of planning this party, I had a debate in my head about whether to take them out of the package or save them for another time. “What if people toss them or they get messed up and I can’t use them again?” I reasoned.
Seriously, what could be a better occasion to use them? This is, like, exactly what I bought them for and I am scared to use them because they might get ruined! Silly, silly thoughts.
Or how about when we’d buy a specialty grocery item, and then stash it away in the pantry for the right moment, and then rediscover it when it’s way past its prime. We would have gotten more pleasure out of it had it been used and enjoyed on just a regular day if we had paused to truly savor it with the people we love.
Another example for you- the handmade baby blanket. Do you hide it away so that it will still be in mint condition in 25 years when your children are having children of their own? A quarter century later, you pull it out of the air-tight container and realize you don’t actually have memories of using the blanket. So is it really as special as the one in all the baby pictures that was snuggled, slobbered, and loved by your precious little one who’s now all grown up? Why don’t we use and enjoy the gift that grandma took so much love and care to make?
I catch myself in these patterns of thinking more often then I’d like to admit. Because really, what makes a moment memorable? What defines it as being special enough to be worth our best? What exactly are we waiting for in saving the good stuff for later?
Any moment can be extraordinary if we take the time to enjoy it. It’s about the people we share our moments with, and the act of being fully present. What if, instead of waiting for a special occasion to cook that lamb in the freezer, you decide that “today is going to be a special family dinner because I am cooking lamb and we are all together to enjoy it. “ Then you share some laughs over a hot meal and Bam! You just made memories that are going down in the family history books.
In every moment we can live as if we are still waiting for the best time of our life to show up, or we can choose to live like this is the best time of our life.
Remember our friends Mary and Martha in the bible? Mary didn’t miss out on that precious moment. I imagine she savored every word that came out of Jesus’ mouth as she sat at his feet, captivated. Or what about the woman with the expensive perfume in Matthew 26:7, who poured it out on Jesus’ head? Do you think she thought “I have something special here, but I don’t want to waste it”? No. She recognized the sacredness of the moment and knew there would never be a more beautiful time to share her treasure.
Let’s take this one step further. Do you have a special gift or skill that you don’t often use, because you feel it wouldn’t be appreciated to its fullest in most everyday contexts? For me, I like to bake fancy desserts. Most of the time, though, if I am going to a potluck or hosting a get together I will make something like brownies or chocolate chip cookies because I know everybody will like them. Not everyone knows what crème brulee is, so do I really want to put in the extra effort to make it? What if I bring it and people think I went overboard?
Let me shift my thinking a bit. Instead of thinking that extra effort would be wasted or undervalued, I can take the posture of the woman with the perfume and go all out in pouring love on people by using my gifts for everyone’s enjoyment. Skip the brownie mix and make the raspberry crème brulee.
Maybe you have the gift of encouragement and you find that God gives you a word to build up the person next to you in the grocery store. Don’t let you reason yourself out of speaking it just because you don’t know how it would be received. It could make for an encounter that rocks that person’s world and yours!
What treasures have we been hiding away for fear that they will be undervalued or not serve to their full capacity? This just may be the beautiful moment that gift was intended for! No need to wait around for a better time.