In a blog that I visit once a month for inspiration in photography, I saw a picture of a flower that was titled lagniappe. Being a horticulturist, forget about photography, I immediately looked up the "plant". Well, if you already know the meaning of the word, you probably are laughing by now. Lagniappe is not a plant's name. It is English word (from Louisiana) that refers to the extra gift given to the customer by the merchant. I recognized the meaning of the word because the tradition of giving the customer an extra measure of the product being purchased is very familiar to me, from my Filipino upbringing. It is translated as surok in Ilocano or dagdag in Tagalog. It is given by the merchant freely out of his good will.
Now, excuse my chutzpah in extending the use of the word...
When we take a close and honest look at ourselves there are little things we are good at that are valued by those around us. Let's just say that God, when he was putting together the package that is you, threw in something extra in there out of his generous heart. Lagniappe! A bonus. Small something beyond what was required. And yet small as they were, they become part of your identity.
In my case, I believe I've been given smile. That's right. Smile on my face! People notice that I often smile - it is my default expression. I'm smiling even when I am not trying to smile. We all know that smile is a barrier-breaker. It makes people more approachable. A genuine smile is a safety indicator. When we smile, people around us are encouraged to smile back. Sometimes when used properly it can help you argue more effectively. :) It makes things better between me and others. I have a generous supply of it. Smile is something I will never run out of.
Sharing this gift requires no struggle on my part. But when sin takes control over me, I withhold it and deny others of seeing grace through my face. I act as if I never had this gift. The world around me becomes a different place - more hostile. With this lagniappe I have the ability to affect the atmosphere around me. In a recent conversation with Tim, he said that one of the things that he likes about me is my smile. He enjoys seeing me smile. My thought was - that is very easy to give. The investment on my part is nothing - really nothing - compared to the value that he puts in it. It is not just about having the gift in the first place. It is more about sharing it as a lagniappe to the people in your immediate surrounding.
Everyone has a unique little gift. That thing about you that doesn't require much effort to display and yet it makes your corner a more delightful place. Identify that gift in your own life. Cultivate it. Use it improve the world around you. Next time you remember, give an extra measure of that treasure you have - as a free gift!