When I left Papua New Guinea I received many gifts. Most of them were bilums which are traditional bags, and in our area they are made with hand rolled fibers. This is a laborious process and I was blessed by each bag I received that represents a relationship with an individual or a whole family. I also received some other gifts but one in particular stands out. One of my co-workers presented me with a spoon but this spoon came with apologies. He had hand-carved a large, beautiful spoon out of dark wood but was sorry that it wasn’t a bilum.
Now that I am back in the US, I still am grateful for my pile of beautiful bilums and all the memories but it is the spoon that lives on my stove. My husband used it yesterday to stir chorizo while we were making breakfast. And each day that I see it, I am reminded of PNG and my sweet co-worker who apologized for the gift that I now use the most.
This gift is also a reminder to me that sometimes what I think isn’t right or good enough, is actually wonderful and often more than ok. I’m very hard on myself and most of the time assume the worst in a selfish way. For example, if you text me that we need to talk, my mind immediately thinks that I did something wrong or you’re mad at me. You could have good news to share or have some important prayer request that’s personal to you but unfortunately that’s not what I would think of first. In conversations I’m often worried more about what the other person thinks of me instead of concentrating on the topic. I worry that people aren’t comfortable or are noticing the mess when they visit my house. I think that my husband doesn’t like the meal (despite taking seconds!) just because it isn’t his new favorite of all time. And when I give gifts, I worry if people will actually like them.
Whew. That list isn’t even exhaustive but enough confessions. This isn’t about my insecurities, it’s about a great spoon. The unexpected gift that came with an apology. It’s the gift that reminds me that it’s ok that something isn’t perfect or what everyone else would do, it’s often ok. And more often than not, even better.