Using our gift-cards by Tracy Williamson

Today whilst on holiday in Norfolk, my friend Marilyn and I decided to go for a day of browsing in the shops and spending some gift cards we'd both recently received. I've always loved clothes shopping but the enjoyment is usually tempered by a vague feeling of guilt that I'm wasting both my time and money when I've already got all I need. I  browse furtively, hoping I won't be seen and judged and will probably either leave with nothing or buy something on impulse that I know I'll have to return.   Today was different!  I had gift cards and with these in hand I felt we had 'permission' to nose around the displays searching out the brightest colours and most frivolous styles and have fun trying them on for the first time since the start of the pandemic.  We left the shops laden with 'free' clothes. Having the gift cards was like having a key to enjoy guilt free shopping.  In fact, I'd have felt guilty if I hadn't shopped because the gift cards had been given to me in love for that express purpose.  I was honouring my friends and family by spending them. You may wonder what all this about shopping has to do with a blog about writing?   Well the thing is, I often face my computer screen with as deep a sense of guilt as I usually browse around the shops.  Deep down I believe that in trying to write something I'm wasting both my time and money.  I quickly feel a fraud in even thinking I can put words together in such a way that others may enjoy reading them.  I stick to my safe 'styles' when really I long to try my hand at something new, fun or even frivolous, but who am I to try? Do you struggle with such feelings too? Well today I had a revelation - Each of my gift cards was like a ticket enabling me to experiment with and own all sorts of un-typical styles. Each of those cards had been given as an act of love from certain friends and family.  It was their desire that I use them to get myself something nice, because they loved me.   God too has given us all 'gift cards' of creativity and uniqueness of understanding and expression that He longs for us to explore and use.  To know that rather than feeling guilty about using our time to try to write something new or our money to help that process along, He wants us to use those gifts with a sense of rightness, joy, and even ownership.  After all, it says in Genesis that on each day of creation 'God saw what He had made and it was good.'  How did He express that?  I don't believe there was anything furtive about it!  He openly celebrated over all that He made.  He danced and rejoiced in Heaven. He has put 'charis' in each of us, unique gift cards of grace and joy in expressing ourselves and I feel He is longing for us to realise how much it honours and delights Him when we take those 'charis' gifts and dare to have fun with them, to own them and not be afraid of using them. Because of guilt about about making time to go shopping I've sometimes discovered that a certain gift card has expired.  I've left it too late and I can't redeem it.  How sad, not just for me but for the person who lovingly gave it me. And how sad too if we one day find that our 'Charis' love gifts from God have expired simply because we've never properly owned and explored them.  Are you feeling guilty about spending time writing? Are you struggling with feelings of being a fraud?  Or are you enjoying time to explore all that God has put within you to be?   I know which I want to be true. Know His joy and delight as you 'spend' your gift cards today.  Tracy Williamson is an author and speaker working with blind singer songwriter Marilyn Baker for MBM Trust.

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