Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Greatest Gift

What's the greatest gift you've ever received? Was it a toy when you were a child? Was it a pair of jeans when you were a teen? Was it an electronic device when you were an adult? How long did that gift make you happy? Did you tire of it after a while?

With today being Christmas, I'd like to address the greatest gift. One that keeps on giving. One that you can treasure. One that you can show others.

A few years ago, I watched a documentary on PBS. A group of people wanted to overcome their stuttering problems, and the documentary followed each individual's story. One woman's story stood out from the others.

I don't remember her name, but I'll call her Sally. Sally was an African-American woman in her early 40s. She was pursuing her doctorate degree in Sociology and wanted to work on her stuttering issues before presenting her oral dissertation.

She and the other participants in this course practiced ways to overcome their stuttering. They did things like ask people on the street for directions, call and order food for delivery, and have conversations with the program staff. Everyone minimized their stuttering at the end of the training program and went back to their regular lives.

They showed Sally a few weeks after the training program. She was in a university hallway awaiting the results of her oral dissertation. She had just presented before a panel and was really nervous. She kept looking at the decision makers' door as she paced the hallway. Finally, the door opens and balloons come out into the hallway as one of the decision makers says, "Come on in, Dr. Sally."

She was so happy. Everyone congratulated her as they ate cake and talked about how well she did during her dissertation. Her receiving her doctorate was certainly rewarding. But it seemed like she was a little more comfortable and confident. It seemed like she regained something that she had lost through years of stuttering. It seemed like she regained a part of herself.

So the greatest gift was her. As your greatest gift is you, and my greatest gift is me. I think that you regain a little more of yourself with every obstacle that you overcome. You get the gift of you after each challenge. You can treasure this gift by treating yourself well and not letting others treat you with anything less than you deserve.

So what do you think? Have you been your greatest gift ever? I know I've been mine. I hope that you've been yours. I wouldn't take back my challenges for all the world because it's made me who I am today. Plus, I don't think you ever get tired of this gift, for it lasts a lifetime.

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