At this point in my life I can honestly say that I am a wholehearted believer in the adage, “It is better to give than to receive.” I was not always this enthusiastic or generous. I admit there have been times when I have been really jealous of what others have received and what I did not. Or times I have been upset that I did not get what I really wanted. I am ashamed to say, I have even cried my eyes out as a grown woman for being unhappy with my presents.
I remember one Christmas in particular. It was our first Christmas in our first home we had purchased only a few months before. It was only our second or third Christmas as a married couple, so I can say we were still somewhat newlyweds. We were on a tight Christmas budget, because a house is a pretty big expenditure, and we had agreed to spend only a certain, small, amount on each other. I had dropped all kinds of hints just to make sure that Dave had a few ideas to choose from. Many of my items were practical things I wanted for the house or kitchen.
Christmas morning dawned bright and early and we made our way to the tree. There were a few brightly colored packages nestled under the bottom branches of our tree for each of us. (By the way, we still have and use that tree.) I opened the first package, how lovely, Victoria’s Secret underwear! Not the kind you wear all day, but that’s alright. Then it was Dave’s turn. Then mine. Oh, my! Another box, bright and shiny pink, Victoria’s Secret bras to match the underwear! Dave’s turn again. Then mine. Wow…more Victoria’s Secret. Dave’s turn. Then mine. You shouldn’t have, REALLY…more Victoria’s Secret. I think I started crying right then and there. I knew how much these items cost. That was it! My entire Christmas was from Victoria’s Secret and I was pretty sure David had not gotten these items on sale. Knowing the cost to wear time average was killing me. Especially since I had a drawer full of similar things given to me at various bridal showers.
What a day of infamy. I crushed my poor husband that Christmas day. He never expected his young wife to break into hysterical sobbing over his lovingly prepared gifts. Poor David. He was just trying to be romantic! I, however, felt as though he had just gone shopping for himself. Those weren’t for me, they were for him!
Little did I know he also had purchased, totally out of our agreed upon budget, a lovely blue, Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring. It was wrapped beautifully and tucked into my stocking. I felt totally ashamed for crying, even if vaguely justified, when I saw his sacrifice in that ring. He had saved and even skipped lunches out to buy it for me.
Over the years God has taught me to be a gracious receiver, no matter what the gift. I have been around long enough to have given a gift that was not received well. I know how badly that feels when it happens and I know that I tend to think that person is ungrateful.
As I have become the mother of four children, I love to give and I wouldn’t care if I got nothing at all. Watching the faces of our children light up when they open a package is so much better than getting something I want. Or maybe that is just it, what I want has changed. I no longer want to get something in particular, I simply want to enjoy others getting something, enjoy seeing others be delighted.
So it is with God. We can get really frustrated and hurt when we don’t get what we want or ask for, when our expectations are our own. Or selfish. Once we start desiring what He wants for us, we will never be disappointed, just blessed.