This week marked my first to receive heartfelt gifts from my eldest. It started with the classic dandelion bouquet (in a vase, no less!); today he gave me a card and necklace that he made at preschool. (You can’t tell from the picture, but it’s plaster-of-paris on a string with an imprint of a beer cap in it. Yes, beer – he told me specifically. He knows his mama and I love his school.)
Most precious: his excitement of the giving. He told me umpteen times how happy I was to get the flowers. And he barely let me wait to get home from school before unwrapping the necklace – he actually told me what it was upon first sight of me. “Mom!!!!! I made you a necklace!!!!!” I tried to convince him to let me wait until Daddy was around to unwrap it, but he would have none of it. Then, as we said our pre-nap prayers, he told me that he wanted me to take the necklace off when I ate because he didn’t want me to get it messy. Well, of course.
I’ll treasure these sweet trinkets. I’ll lovingly store them away (well, maybe not the dandelions) and show them again when he’s older.
As I enjoy them now, I’m drawn to reflect on the nature of love and giving and how we’re completely incapable of giving gifts to truly reflect our gratitude. Specifically, because lately I’ve enjoyed this parenting-as-God’s-perspective-thing (boy that sounds quite idolatrous, doesn’t it?), I have to wonder how many bouquets of dandelions I’ve handed to God, proud of my work and confident that it is, indeed the best. gift. ever.
God lovingly accepts them. He understands that what we have to offer, no matter how meager, comes from the heart. It’s not the flowers or the necklace, but the diligence in giving. To be honest, it’s probably more for the giver than the gifted. My heart jumps because he’s so excited to give, not because I need to receive anything.
So I consider how I try to express to God my love. My worship; my words of praise; my prayers. To think, these are likely plaster-of-paris necklaces, meager in comparison but gladly worn. Given probably more for my sake than His.
It’s ironic, isn’t it? This year, at 4 years old, is the first H Boy has attempted independent (yet aided) gift-giving. The previous 3 years required a bit of help from daddy on the holidays. However, these first 4 years of life have been when he’s needed me most. In fact, of all my 3 (well, 4) kids, I find an inverse relationship between how much they need me and how able they are to give in response.
Someday the time will come when my kids are grown and completely capable of giving me big, wonderful, expensive gifts of gratitude (massage, kids! Always massage!). But in those days, I would expect little. Dear ones, you don’t cause me near the angst or stress or tears as functional adults as you did this very week.
Even now, what I really want is for them to take a nap. I would dance for joy if they each simply did want I asked. The gifts send a nice message, but how I yearn for compliance, to simply follow my commands.
Hint, hint, self. Perhaps I need to invest slightly less energy stringing together elaborate phrases of love and adoration but put a bit more emphasis on those things God has asked and and requested of me: to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly. Oh, how that probably brings joy to God’s heart. We can offer him dandelion songs, but maybe he wants me to be a bit more intentional about loving my neighbor Or not yelling at my kids. Or recognizing my bounty and giving some to those who need it more.
It’s not to say that I should stop offering the handmade cards to God. He’ll treasure them, but not because of the greatness of the gift but rather the heart of the giver.
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