My grandma used to make things easy and give the same gifts to all of the granddaughters at Christmas. One year when I was about 6 or so, all I wanted was a Barbie doll, and I was so looking forward to the fun I was going to have after unwrapping this gift on Christmas day. We had gathered in my grandparents’ living room and wrapping paper already littered the floor. I watched as my younger cousin opened up her gift and it was exactly what I had longed for- that Barbie with the fun clothes and long blonde hair. But the gift I opened up first? A Barbie coloring book. No, I thought, this isn’t what I asked for! I’m embarrassed to say I burst into tears in disappointment and jealousy. My grandma was kind and patient and said with a twinkle in her eyes, “Sarah, just wait! There’s another present for you to open”.
I do this too with my Heavenly Father and the gifts He gives to me. This year I have been far more likely to throw a toddler tantrum as I unwrapped less-than-ideal situations. I have stomped my feet as I watched others around me get the answers to prayer or their longed-for desires- a spouse, a baby, successful ministry opportunities, good health. I have cried over my singleness, my brokenness, my loneliness and the silence. These are the gifts you are giving me, Jesus? NO, this isn’t what I wanted!
Yet, these are gifts, if I can pause long enough to see them as such. In my singleness, God is slowly, slowly teaching me that He is the tender warrior and protector of my heart. He is slowly, slowly chipping away at the thick walls of my soul, coaxing me out to know His deep love. He waits for me to finish my whining, and reminds me that I can trust Him with my whole being, with the places I have kept in the darkness because of shame or fear of rejection. Oh, the pain still tightens its grip on my heart, the anxiety rises up until all I can do is breath in and out, but He patiently reminds me that this too shall pass. He knows this pain intimately and sits with me in it, even if He doesn’t take it away like I want Him too.
I did get that Barbie I so desperately wanted that year. But you know what? I should have been just as grateful for a coloring book given in love, for a grandmother who forgave my childish outburst and the family gathered in that living room. Jesus, keep teaching me to say yes and thank you to the gifts you give me.
Musings inspired by this post on Velvet Ashes: Unwanted Gifts.