Friday, September 9, 2011

It really is the thought that counts

"For God so loved the world, 
He gave His one and only Son"
John 3:16

What's the best gift you've ever received?  Was it expensive?  Or is it just valuable to you because of the person who gave it to you?  Or is it valuable to you simply because of the length of time that you've had it.

And what's the best gift you've ever given?  Something you saved up for months to buy?  Or something you were excited to stumble upon because it was perfect for your friend or loved one?  The more you love someone, the more important the gift is to you, the giver.

I got a gift for a very dear friend of mine several months ago.  It was something I had prayed over, and even the timing was chosen with this friend in mind.  Unfortunately, in the ensuing months, I have come to realize that the gift did not really mean that much to her.  She, of course, did not have any idea of the thought that went into it on my part, and I don't necessarily want her to.  It's her gift, she can do with it what she pleases, but it's a disappointment to me that it's not as special to her as I'd hoped.

It has put me in mind of the same thing that happened over twenty years ago.  One of my best friends at the time, was turning eighteen.  I carefully chose a special gift to celebrate the occasion.  A gift meant to last a lifetime; to be enjoyed on special occasions, and protected the rest of the time.  It was not cheap.  It was not  extravagant, but I had been willing to spend a little extra because of the occasion.   Not that many months later, she was giving away some things, and asked me if I wanted any of them before she gave them away. And my gift was among them.  I don't know if she had forgotten that I had given it to her, or if she knew it, and so she thought she was being thoughtful by offering it back to me before giving it away.

I was stunned.  I didn't say anything, I just took it, maybe with a couple of other trifles.  I knew it was valuable, so I figured one of us ought to have it.  But the feeling stung for a long time.

It happens a lot to anyone who's a mom, too.  You give your all to people who are as self-involved as any human can possibly be.  Babies are born with only two conditions:  "content," and "not-content-and-screaming-until-the-problem-is-solved".  Most mothers do not teach their children "thank you" because they're looking for appreciation for themselves, but because they don't want their children to grow up with an over-developed sense of entitlement.   So while you teach your children all about appreciation, you are the most unappreciated person in their lives.  A little irony for ya there...

So I'm feeling a little hurt today, because what I thought was going to be a special gift, was not.  And I think that because I'm hurting, I'm all of a sudden painfully aware that I'm doing the same thing to God.  I'm not sure how.  But I know for sure I've been just as unfeeling about gifts He has given me.  Could we ever be appreciative enough for His Son... His Spirit.... His Word?

To fully appreciate His gifts to us, is to fully appreciate Him... His qualities of love and mercy; of justice and purity.  He wants us to accept His gift of salvation, revel in His gift of joy, and luxuriate in His gift of peace.  What else is a gift for?

~ "Oh, that we would give thanks to the Lord
 for His goodness,
and for His wonderful works to us!" ~
Psalm 107:8

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