Regretting My Lack of Regard

I regret that I failed to value my grandma's gift when she gave it.

I regret that I failed to value my grandma’s gift when she gave it.

The vest hangs in my closet, drab khaki, untouched since the last time we moved, over ten years ago. My grandmother gave it to me twenty-seven years ago, the day I graduated from college. When I opened the gift, I remember thanking her in my fake-enthusiastic way, “Wow, Grandma! Just what I needed!” I exclaimed.

“I’m sure it’ll come in handy for all your picture-takin’,” she explained with a giggle. I’d smiled again and given her a hug. Yes, I’d purchased a nice camera with a telephoto lens over the summer before my senior year of high school; I’d had a photography class in college, and I know I’d sent her some cool photos from the year I spent in Spain. But this vest, well, it was something a pro might use in a war zone.

“I’m sure it will. It seems to have a pocket for everything,” I had replied. But I’d never worn it, and I’d never explored all of those pockets. In my freshly minted arrogance, I’d assumed the vest was another Fingerhut special—cheap, and not worthy of my regard (after all, Grandma was a Fingerhut shopper of the year). I secretly believed it was a fishing vest, not one for photographers. Ah, what did Grandma know?

But I’d held onto the vest, through marriage, through three major moves, though children and a busy life with no time to take photos (except of the kids), and no money to buy film (which, somewhere between the last move and now, had become almost obsolete).

Five years ago, while facing the challenge of finding summer school classes that sounded interesting (I have to keep my teaching certificate current), I spotted a digital photography class in the schedule. “The perfect excuse to buy a nice camera and snap a few photos,” I thought to myself. And so I did. I worked a second, part-time job to earn money for a Canon EOS Rebel T1i and I spent two blissful weeks in summer school learning all about digital photography, Adobe Photoshop and the joys of taking all the shots you wanted without having to buy and develop the film.

A view deep inside a cactus flower after a desert rainstorm.

A view deep inside a cactus flower after a desert rainstorm.

I fell in love. I discovered that wandering around and taking photos of things both quirky and sublime magically made stress disappear. I drove my family crazy, taking photo after photo of the same object while on walks (“Is it really necessary to take so many photos of the SAME thing?” my girls would whine and my husband ask, with a quirk in his grin). I bought a macro lens and explored the minutia of flowers and insects. I filled frame after frame with dragonfly eyes and butterfly wings and stamens and pistils.

Kona SunseI got lens envy. I started selling stuff I didn’t need or want any more on eBay in order to buy an “L” Series lens from Canon—one that brought the distant into sharp and crystal focus. I discovered birds. I now arise before normal people and hike to crazy places just for a chance at the perfect shot of a sunrise. I run outside in the middle of supper if a glance out the window proves that the light and the clouds have come together in perfect harmony.

And the vest. I looked at it today, and noticed the label: Columbia. I started examining the features: a pocket on the back with a draw-cord that would definitely hold a tripod; pockets large enough to house my 100-400mm telephoto lens in the front; multiple small pockets for holding film (or digital memory cards). Shoot, I could probably even fit my water bladder in the back compartment, toss in a few sandwiches and some energy bars and be set for the day. The pockets in front accommodate my wide-angel lens as well as my macro lens.

I’m still not sure if it’s a fishing vest or a photographer’s vest. But one thing I’m sure of. I regret not being thankful for it when I received it. I regret that it took me 27 years to appreciate the vest. I regret that I didn’t understand that my grandma knew me better than I knew myself. She understood that I had a passion and potential, and I vow to honor her by developing my craft—and wearing the vest while I do so.

Our heavenly Father knows us better than we know ourselves–he sees passion and potential in us that we can’t see ourselves.  I encourage you to explore the closets of your soul and find the gifts he has given you.  Dust them off, examine them and think of how the Giver imagined you using the gift.  And then get to work–you honor him when you develop the gifts he has given you.

Today I’m joining up with Holley Gerth and friends at Coffee for Your Heart.  Join us, won’t you? Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

 

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I’ve been digging through the closets of my soul over the past year and finally rediscovering passions and gifts I’d let fall away. Thank goodness God knows us better than we know ourselves – and is patient to wait for us to catch up! Thanks for this today!

    • Thanks for stopping by Kathryn! And you’re sooooo right–God has infinite patience with us (which provides a lesson in itself–how patient am I with others?).

  • I love this. I have had those kinds of moments and it’s never too late! Glad you put it on and are seeing how perfect it is for you. Great storytelling!
    Kirsten Oliphant recently posted…Moving TreasuresMy Profile

  • Oh, I love this! It makes me remember that you were once a youth who thought the way youth do, and it makes me wish I could have known my great grandma but also gives me such appreciation at all my grandparents and parents (and sister and aunts and uncles and husband and friends) are living and well and I have the chance to know them and be thankful for them.
    Laura Melchor recently posted…That Was Then, This Is NowMy Profile

    • Yep–I was once a youth who knew everything…now I know I know very little ;). That’s the magic of age.

  • Anita,
    I love this…You gave me such hope as I read…one of these days I will learn how take pictures other than on my phone, which I don’t really know what I am doing…

    Your photos are gorgeous and I suspect somewhere deep inside you did value that vest since you’ve been moving it around for a long time…Thanks for sharing this story 🙂
    Dolly@Soulstops recently posted…How you can daily celebrate Easter (Really…)My Profile

    • Thank you, Dolly :). And you’re probably right about valuing the vest deep inside–I just wish I’d been more genuinely thankful when I received it. One day, you WILL learn how to take gorgeous photos of your own :). Because if you want to, you’ll find a way!

  • Grandma’s a special people aren’t they! I’m so glad you kept that vest and finally started to use it!
    Rabia @TheLiebers recently posted…Anew Wine {Review}My Profile

    • Grandma’s ARE the best! I hope that one day, I’ll be a good grandma to my grandchildren (should I ever have any 😉 ). I’m so glad you stopped by, Rabia :).