How Many Gifts are in You?

Is it possible there are things you have to give that you haven’t yet discovered?

Last week on television someone asked this question: How many gifts are in you? I wrote it down to think about later because I liked the idea of each person having gifts within themselves to give to the world.

I believe that people are intrinsically good. People can do horrific things, but there is always some kernel of goodness in each person. We make choices, and they aren’t always the right ones, but it’s up to us to work on finding the wisdom to make those choices from the place of goodness within ourselves.

I think even the most vile and evil persons have that same kernel of goodness within. It doesn’t excuse the choices they’ve made, or the fact that they may pay a high price for those choices, but there’s always the potential to find the good again and to be forgiven for those choices.

I love the idea that who we are–that which makes us us–can be seen as a gift. A gift to me is something that’s given without any expectation of gratitude or acknowledgement, something that doesn’t need your name attached to it.

Maybe it can be something as small as a smile you give to someone you don’t know, a door held open to the person behind you, or paying the lunch bill for the person sitting alone at the table next to yours.

These are small kindnesses, but kindness is a gift.


I can’t say that I’m always the nicest person, but I try. Thinking of my life as a series of gifts I can give to others makes me want to search for the gifts I’m not yet aware of. What are those gifts I have left to give? Are there others I don’t know about, that lie hidden so deeply, waiting until the time is right to be brought forth?

These are things I used to think about when I was fifteen, alone in my bedroom, wondering who I was and what I wanted my future life to look like. Is it possible that I haven’t figured it all out yet, that 35 years later I’m right back in the same place as that teenage girl, knowing it doesn’t matter where I am on this road, that I can focus and redirect my life in any direction I want to take it?

This is something I struggled with as a teacher of inner city kids, that so many of my ten, eleven, and twelve year old students had already given up and weren’t able to see the gifts within themselves. Many of them didn’t understand about choices and the idea that life is bigger than their own small worlds. They were so used to seeing life as something passively happening to those around them, not knowing that each person has the power to make life happen, and that it can change and be better.

It’s one thing for a teacher to bring out your gifts, but quite another if there is silence at home. Or screaming.

We’ve all seen people make miraculous changes in their lives, and it can be inspiring. People lose weight, leave a thankless job, turn a passion into a career, or decide there’s something better than what they’ve known.

It starts with realizing you’re more than who you think you are.

Knowing there are gifts that each person can give to the world is a very powerful idea. If we viewed each person we meet as having something wonderful to give, something they might not even be aware of, we might see that person very differently.

And if each person actively worked to realize their own gifts, and to bring those gifts to light, what a different world this could be.


  1. skippingstones

    What a great post! I have had that idea on my head recently about gifts. Dave Ramsey (on the financial peace course I’m taking) was talking about how his kids are different, that God had given them different gifts. I wondered what my gift was, or if I had one. But Dave was talking about things we don’t always recognize as gifts, like a heart for service, organizational skills or things like that. I think you’re right, that we all have things inside of us to give, and I love your idea of looking at others the same way.

    • Mind Margins

      Thanks, Michelle! As a teacher, I always tried to find and celebrate each student’s strengths, even if they weren’t academic. I’ve had students who were wonderful artists and athletes, or great peacekeepers and social diplomats–but they may have struggled in academic areas. Since test scores are all anyone seems to care about these days, those kids had a really tough time, and I knew many of them would eventually give up and drop out. I think that’s a shame. We need musicians, poets, runners, organizers, cartoonists, and great speakers in the world. It’s too bad we can’t help more kids find their gifts while they’re young. (Sorry for going off on yet another educational rant. It’s easy to get me going.)

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