Does a gift become a gift when the giver gives it, or when it is received by the one given to?
Have you ever received a gift from a distant relative that meant well, but truly missed the mark? You want to get rid of the 'gift' as fast as you received it!
A gift is something that is unique both to the giver as well as the recipient. It's almost like a covenant or special place of agreement with one another.
In terms of the arts, people are called 'gifted' in certain areas of performance and creativity. There have been many artists who have given highly crafted gifts to an unaccepting audience, while others with less creativity and ingenuity gave gifts to an audience that went 'crazy' over their mediocre production.
So what makes a gift a Gift?
Here are a few catagories of gifts to ponder:
1) The pre-mature gift. The giver's gift may be highly creative and thoughtful, but the recipient simply isn't ready for it. The giver sees the potential of what the recipient could do with the gift, how it would benefit them, but they can't yet see it for themselves. These gifts may be received reluctantly and set on the shelf for a while. Then one day, the recipient has become mature enough to appreciate the gift and it becomes relevant to them, at which point they become truly grateful.
2) The late gift. Here's a gift that is usually given out of reluctance, procrastination or obligation. The giver knows that it would be appropriate to give, but lacks the motivation to get the job done 'on time'. Or maybe they were unaware of the due date, or had forgotten it, then hastily they scramble to put something together. It's truly a missed opportunity. It's a failure to properly assess the potential of the moment. A gift too late is like over-ripe and bruised fruit that's really only good for the trash can.
3) The timely gift. This is one that uniquely perceives the recipient's desires and accurately assesses the time-frame of the moment to give it. Enough time and insight went into the preparation and it just 'hit's the mark'. The giver, in this situation, has been willing to listen to the desires and needs of the recipient well before the gift's giving date. It's a 'win win' situation, where the giver and the receiver are both rewarded.
4) The over-appreciated gift. Here is a gift that is given to meet the fleshly, selfish desires of the recipient. It's only goal is to get instant appreciation. The one who gives this kind of gift usually doesn't care much about the gift itself and doesn't put a lot of thought, energy or time into the process. He simply gives out of a prior knowledge that this is what the recipient wants. In this case, the recipient is happy for a little while, but the lasting results of a mutual relationship in the gift was never there to begin with.
5) The under-appreciated gift. This gift is given by the gift-giver with a great amount of thought, preparation and anticipation. They endeavor to give what they would want for themselves, regardless as to whether or not the recipient is really at all interested. Many times the recipient feels a little awkward in this situation, trying to 'gin up' a response to the giver's obvious sacrifice and love. This gift may become more appreciated in a matter of time, and ultimately will last in the recipient's memory as a token of the giver's good-intentions.
6) The unanimously appreciated gift. When both the giver and the recipient are 'on the same page' the gift becomes more than the gift itself. It becomes a symbol of their relationship. The gift opens a door to something higher than itself, a celebration of the mutual love and understanding of the giver and the receiver towards one another.
7) The unanimous and timely gift. The best of all worlds. It's a gift that hits the heart of the recipient at the right time and the right place. It may be expensive, or it may be inexpensive, but if it 'hits the mark' it is never considered 'cheap'. This gift brings mutual satisfaction to both the recipient as well as the giver and heightens their friendship, strengthens their love toward one another and unites them in commonality.
As an artist, there will be many different people who will be given the opportunity to receive your gift. Some will accept it, some will reject it. Some will be overly enthusiastic and others only mildly. The Carpenter's song, "Sing" from the 1970's, conveys the thought that "it doesn't matter if it's not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song."
The creative flow, like a river, must get to its destination. If a rock or some other obstruction gets in its way, it just flows around it, moving on towards its goal.
Let the creative flow move through you to benefit and bless those around you. As you are sensitive to the needs, desires, gift 'arrival dates', and your own perception of what will be a lasting contribution to their lives, surely you will have success in a mutually enjoyed relationship.
Let's not forget the greatest example and role-model of giving: God through Jesus Christ.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16)