The AscensionHave you ever given a crummy gift because you thought it was expected?  Have you ever put out second-rate work because you couldn’t figure out what first-rate work looked like or because you didn’t even know it was second rate?  I know that I have.

A couple of years ago I was getting ready to marry my beautiful wife and was looking for gifts for my groomsmen.  I wanted to get them nice, useful gifts because I valued them and their friendship but I was held back by something.  I was held back by convention.

Held Back By Convention

“What do you mean, ‘Held back by convention,'” you ask?

I couldn’t think of any great gifts because I knew what kinds of gifts were expected.  Were “traditional.”  To be fair, my friends and I really aren’t the “monogramed beer stein and cigar” crowd but most of the recommended gifts (Amazon link) for groomsmen are what I would call useless.  The kind of thing that my groomsmen would never actually want but would feel obliged to keep simply because it had been a gift.

For whatever reason, I found my brain locked into junk gifts as though I were a moth circling a fluorescent bulb.  I couldn’t see any further than the “conventional” gifts and found myself anchored to them in the same way that a manufacturer’s suggested retail price makes us think we got a great deal when we have just been fleeced.

Sadly, I got them exactly that kind of gift.  Though  I don’t know exactly what I gave them any more – probably a travel coffee mug with our wedding date on it or something like that – I can guarantee it was almost entirely useless.  And that, whatever it was, it certainly didn’t express what these guys have meant to me and I doubt that even one of them has it any more.

A Whole New World

Of course, at the time I felt pretty good about myself for fulfilling the convention. That is until a couple of weeks ago when I was a groomsman.  I was in a friend’s wedding and he got us a super-cool gift.  As you can see, he didn’t defy the tradition, but he wasn’t imprisoned by the “conventional” gifts.  I suspect he thought long and hard about what to do.

Instead of getting us some lame key chain or cigarette lighter, he got each of us a LaCie iamaKey 4 GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive 130869 (Amazon link).  Now that might not be a great gift for some people, but we’re geeks and this was totally up our collective alley.  We’re the guys who would love to have a flash drive that fits on a keychain and looks like a key.

That God Me Thinking

A super-cool gift like that made me think a little about the gifts I’d given.  It made me wonder if I could have done better.  And then I started wondering if there were other ways that I settle for “good enough” or “normal” or “traditional.”

You know what?  I’m sure that there are.  I bet that I settle a little every day.  I can almost guarantee that I live more by what I see than by faith in God.  That I allow others to think for me and accept a diet of mediocre ideas and entertainment on an ongoing basis.  I bet that I sacrifice my own enjoyment and fulfillment simply by not being willing to do the hard work of waiting for what’s best.

I’m Tired of “Good Enough”

Actually, I’m embarrassed that I ever settled for “good enough.”  In the gifts that I give, in the way that I love, and in the life that I live.  I’ve settled for “good enough” for too long because God has called me to extraordinary.

And he’s called you, too.  Are you settling for “good enough” instead of extraordinary?

Lord, help me (and us) to see where we’re trapped by our own expectations.  Transform our thinking and our lives until we think and live the way you want us to live.  Give us the grace to be extraordinary.

Image credit: eqqman

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