Now that the holiday season has come and gone, I’ve had plenty of time between the board games and the eggnog to process some of the feelings I possessed about gift-giving this year. The state my mind was in prior to December 25th has been bothering me, because I knew I was incorrect, but I didn’t know how to make it right.
Has it ever been hard for you to give gifts to or do nice things for certain people in your life?
Maybe you have a strained relationship with an adult sibling, or maybe you don’t like the feeling of obligation you experience when it comes to purchasing presents for a zillion relatives. Or maybe, similar to the position I found myself in this year, you lacked the desire to pick out presents for some of your very own children. Mercy, that sounds horrible. But it’s the truth.
We had a rough go of it in 2014. Sadly, behavioral issues consumed near all of our parenting energy in the last twelve months. Some of our kiddos have struggled greatly due to two factors: difficult pasts that are beyond their control and also that same old thing we all wrestle with — the lovely sin nature. No rational person would blame a child for a history they couldn’t have helped, but when it’s mixed with some outright disobedience, it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins.
I’m not at all proud to say it, but as a result of the tumultuous days we’ve been experiencing, selecting and purchasing Christmas presents for these kids was a stretch for my heart. I love my children dearly and want the very best for them, but the thought of letting them receive and open gifts like everyone else in the family felt akin to straight-up rewarding them for the disobedience that ceased only for Christmas Day. It isn’t the same. But it sure felt that way.
I know that’s not the point of Christmas gifts. And I’m certainly not perfect. I also know that’s not the point of loving gestures either. Gifts and love aren’t a reward. Their purpose is to represent the great kindness of Jesus and the numerous and lavish gifts He’s bestowed on us. We love because He first loved us.
The gifts Jesus offers are for all. Offered to all. No matter how we behave. No matter how they behave, He continues to offer. Christ is teaching us to give of ourselves and our love no matter if they accept our gifts or not.
The more I read scripture the more I understand how we are to love people and give gifts.
Freely. Simply because you want to, not because their actions have compelled you.
Without assumption. You can’t always detect inner growth from the outside.
Lavishly. Pour it on.
Unconditionally. Possibly the hardest part. But still possible.
I believe this will be a work-in-progress for all of us for the rest of our lives. It’s no small feat to love and give like Christ. We won’t be able to do it perfectly. But we can do these things in His power. For Him. As we do so, we’ll allow Christ into the darkest crevices of our hearts. The broken, sad, hurt, and stubborn parts. That’s the goal, isn’t it? For Christ to permeate every inch of us? Let’s do this. Let’s love and give even if we aren’t loved and the recipient of gifts in return. That’s the Jesus way.
You’ll be happy to know all of my children received presents this year. They won’t have any sob stories to tell their future children about the year they unearned presents that weren’t supposed to be a reward in the first place.