Well, that’s it – the holidays have officially come to a close. The tree is down, the stockings have been put away, and the kids are now back in school (can I get an “amen”?!?!). I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about the season of giving. With five children, my husband and I are always challenged to keep their focus OFF of the “stuff” and ON Jesus. Maintaining a proper perspective about giving is tough for kids, but I’ve noticed recently that it’s pretty tough for adults too.
I witnessed something in a store recently that deeply saddened me. As is par for the course, I almost always buy a gift for my husband that doesn’t fit. He hates to shop, so I always use Christmas as an opportunity to force him into new clothes. I got a great deal on a sweater for him this year, but needed to exchange it for a different size. While standing in line to make the exchange, I overheard a conversation between a woman and the store clerk. The customer was there to return a bunch of clothes that her husband had purchased for her as Christmas gifts. When asking for the reason for the return, she launched into a diatribe about how she not only didn’t care for the things that he picked out for her, but additionally, she wasn’t thrilled about how much money he spent. She didn’t want a different color and she didn’t want a different size. She wanted to return her items, get her money back, and be on her way. Really, lady?!?!?! My heart broke for that man. Ladies, hear me out on this – it is NOT easy for your man to shop for you. Most men don’t like to shop as it is, but choosing something that you think your wife/girlfriend will like is not an easy task. My husband has a giant heart, and he is beyond generous when it comes to me. There have been gifts that he’s knocked out of the park, and gifts that left me wondering what his train of thought was when he purchased it. He will be the first to admit that buying me gifts makes him break into a sweat. He often consults with my sister first before he makes the purchase (thanks to her, he had a second thought about buying me a GPS for Christmas two years ago!). While I might have raised an eyebrow upon opening a Garmin on Christmas morning, I would have known that my husband was thinking of me when he bought it. I would have known he considered the fact that I don’t know my way around the city all that well, and that he was concerned for my safety when traveling to photo shoots. I know my husband well enough to know that everything he does for me, he does with care.
Would it REALLY be such a pain to wear that “plain blue sweater” that he bought you from the Gap? I know it’s not terribly trendy, but it reminded him of your eyes when he saw it. When did it become acceptable to put the want for more (or better) ahead of someone’s feelings? Wasn’t there a time when we were taught to accept something from someone with gratitude? If someone gave your child a birthday present and he said, “Thanks, but do you have a gift receipt for this?” – well I don’t know about you, but I would be mortified. I’m pretty sure every parent I know would be also. I know what it’s like to be in a relationship where the best you’ll likely get is a gift certificate. No thought was put into what would make you smile. No care was taken to choose just the right thing that he thought would be a blessing to you. Generic is not fun. There’s a fine line between receiving something with grace and gratitude and being a spoiled brat. I urge you all to think twice before you make it more about the material item and less about the person behind the blessing.
All this makes me wonder – how often do we act this way when God is the one bestowing the gift? We either aren’t satisfied with the talents that God has blessed us with, or we’re constantly longing for more, bigger, better, and faster. It’s a side effect of this world that we live in today, but I truly believe that God wants more for us than to just crave what we don’t have – not just physically, but spiritually too. “Gee, thanks for my ability to multi-task as a mom, God – but can I get a gift receipt for that talent? I’d rather be in the mission field.” What an arrogant notion! We want to see manifestations of His presence, and miracles, and blessings (oh my!), but we forget that His grace is sufficient. The best part is that it’s always available – you need to merely open your hands and receive it.
My New Year’s resolution this year is the same as last year’s – STOP WANTING MORE. I have more than enough blessings than I can handle. I have a beautiful family, a roof over my head, and a merciful God who loves me with an all-consuming love. Honestly, what more could I (or you) possibly need?