This world is a materialistic one – but if we have one thing, we want another. Satisfaction is fickle like that. Luckily, there are gifts that we can give and receive that cost nothing at all. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition, defines the word intangible as an asset (as goodwill) that is not corporeal.” That means it does not relate to a physical material, body or thing. Intangible gifts may not cost you anything physical to give, but they often mean the world to the person who receives them.
The gift of a SMILE. Proverbs 15:30 says, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” Mother Teresa once told the people who worked under her supervision to give smiles to at least five people a day. She had discovered that it not only brought joy to the people that they were caring for, but also that it was good medicine for them as well. I challenge you to do the same – smile at five people a day, no matter if you know them or not.
The gift of BELIEVING in someone. Once, an American psychologist / philosopher / physician named William James (1842-1910) said, “The deepest craving in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” I believe this is true. We, as individuals, want to be validated as such. It is not enough that we know our worth – we want the world to recognize it as well. It makes sense then, that, when we don’t get this appreciation from others, we diminish in our own eyes as well.
The gift of a MENTOR. I’ve been blessed with these by the dozens in my life. God knows I can’t go through this life alone. No one can. We, as humans, may think we know everything when we are young, but when reality sets in, we will be floundering. And if we are really, really, really lucky, a hand will reach out for ours and pull us back from the brink. A motivational speaker by the name of Betty Southard says it best: ”Mentoring moments may not be prolonged, but when someone whom you respect says just the right words or gives you the attention when you need it the most, that effect can last a lifetime.”
The gift of LISTENING. James 1:19 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” I know that in this day and age, with all the gadgets and technology we have, the gift of listening to others is the last gift we want to give. But that is what makes it even more precious. We have two ears and one mouth each. There is a reason for that. We should be doing twice as much listening as we do talking.
The gift of LAUGHTER. Laughter is God’s medicine – the most beautiful therapy God ever gave humanity (Anonymous). We, as human beings, can get so serious. I can tell you right now that God never intended our lives to be all work and no play. Of course, he never intended for them to be all play and no work either. Laughter dispels tension, which is the main reason why we sometimes laugh at inappropriate times. It’s contagious too. Who doesn’t hear a baby or a child laugh and smile/laugh right along with them?
The gift of HOPE. O.S. Marden, author and founder of The Modern Success Movement (which I have never heard of before, but I digress) once wrote, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.” I think he (or she?) was on to something there. Tomorrow is a blank slate – we can begin again, and anything can happen. We need to keep the magic of tomorrow alive – which is hope at its purest.
The gift of FORGIVENESS. German writer Johann Paul Righter (1763-1825) wrote, “Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness or when forgiving another.” Forgiveness is a freeing thing – both for the giver and the receiver. We know deep down inside who and what we need to forgive. I may not know your story, but I can tell you that in order to get emotionally and spiritually healthy, we need to forgive those who have hurt us. Holding on to negative feelings damages our own souls. Mercy falls into the forgiveness category – you can’t have one without the other. Even if the mercy is for your own soul, it is still a gift. When we forgive others, it is a boomerang gift in that it frees us from the past and makes room in our hearts for love, peace, and joy.
What are some other intangible gifts that you can think of? A big one for me, in my life, is acceptance, and in that, friendship. I am forever wary of strangers, because I do not know how they will react to me. First impressions can tell you a lot. I usually smile. It is my way of talking without actually talking. Hugs are another way I communicate with my family and friends. Eye contact is yet another way. You can say volumes with your eyes without even opening your mouth. Love is intangible. You can feel the results in your own heart, but you can’t reach out and touch them. Love produces physical gifts of its own, but love itself is just a feeling, and you can’t hold a feeling. You can’t bottle it.
“The best things in life are unseen – that is why we close our eyes when we kiss, cry, and dream.” ~ unknown