I used to think that part of that glee over gifts received came with our modest life throughout the year. And maybe part of it did. But I also think it just was something different built inside me. To expect nothing and be thankful for WHATEVER gift was given with my name on it.
Now that I live in a nice home with extra bedrooms, bathrooms, chores, food and clothes...how do I instill the same attitude of gratitude that came from my upbringing? I struggle with knowing the balance. I watch HGTV and I see people walk into descent homes tearing them apart with words because they NEED granite and hardwood and a huge master bath tub. Perhaps I don't think that way because I never had them before. If you start your life with nice things is it hard to expect less?
My children are 3 1/2 and 19 months. They have no cares in this world. None. We don't lavish them with gifts (except at Christmas and birthdays) and we eat basic foods at home out of necessity. How do I teach them to realize not everyone has a room of their own (I shared one room with 2 & 3 sisters for a time) or his/hers sinks in their own hall bath (a friend's family of 5 shares one bathroom)? How can they possibly understand that many, many people in this world don't have options for dinner and wish they had enough blankets to keep them warm at night while mine kick theirs to the floor because the heater keeps them comfortable enough and they whine about eating fresh chicken again?
Do I sound ungrateful? Perhaps. But this issue has been bothering me lately. Sometimes I look around at all of this and I ask God why on earth he gave this to me and how content I would be with a 3 bedroom and 2 bath house that has a small back yard for the kids to play in. How on earth am I/we going to raise grounded children in this self absorbed world to appreciate every thing they are given as a gift chosen just for them with all love?
We feel like we have a purpose here. God wouldn't give us more than we can handle. Does it sound odd to read that with the perspective of excess? Sometimes I don't know how to handle all of this.
We often teach our children to think beyond themselves. If you see something that needs to be done or someone that could be helped and you are capable of meeting that need, don't wait to be asked. Help. Do. Serve. If you tripped on a toy, pick it up and put it away. If you accidentally knock (or push) your sister over, help her up and ask if she is okay. If someone is carrying a heavy load, step aside or ask them if they need a hand. One of our goals in parenting is to teach our kids that our lives are not our own and therefore God can use us anyway he chooses.
Perhaps the Lord knew (of course he did) that these particular children would learn the same lesson I learned as a child but in different circumstances. I expected nothing and appreciated anything that was given with me in mind. My children have access to more than enough and yet will hopefully learn with abundance comes more opportunities to give with others in mind.
As often happens, the Lord blesses my socks off and then quickly swoops in with a pop quiz. You know the kind. The one that you aren't expecting, didn't study for and yet know you should know all the answers to.
This past week God showed me time and time again that if I only trusted him with the big picture he could more easily use me in any circumstance. Unfortunately after learning all those lessons, I failed the pop quiz miserably. I should have known one was coming. I haven't had a test in awhile. There are only so many lectures given and chapters read before the Teacher wants to make sure you are following all the material. Are you really getting this?
The kids and I were out running errands yesterday evening. I told Bundle Brother that I would buy him a new knight helmet at the Dollar Tree since his broke recently. He was thrilled. We browsed the other aisles but came to the register with only a fire hat in hand. As I waited in line behind a woman and her young daughter, she handed the cashier her card. Declined. "Can you swipe it again?" she asked. Nothing. "Are you able to key in the numbers?" Nada. In my heart I heard, "pay for her stuff!" I never have cash but happened to have $20 in my wallet after a recent grocery shopping trip. "Pay for her stuff!" I thought I would wait. Maybe her card would go through and then it wouldn't be awkward. I don't want to embarrass her. When is the right moment to offer? I just came for this $1 item. What if she is offended? "Pay for her stuff! Your money is mine."
She left empty handed. I paid for the hat and then thought if I saw her outside I would just give her the money so she could go back in. Mother and daughter were no where in sight.
Pop quiz: failed!
What is my problem?!
And please don't leave comments about how noble an act it was for me to even consider giving her money unsolicited. The Lord clearly asked me to act as His hands and feet and I hesitated. Am I still holding tight with clenched fists to the things of this world? Have I learned nothing about God's sovereignty over every moment, breath, interaction?
When I say ALL THAT I HAVE IS FROM HIM AND IS HIS I mean it. And yet sometimes I fail. What a missed opportunity! An opportunity to share God's love with this woman and her daughter. For me to surrender yet again to God's will. An opportunity to model for my son that if you see someone in need and you are capable of helping them, help, do, serve.
All that I am and all that I have is God's. When am I going to get this? All I want for my family is for them to know that every thing they have is a gift from God to be used for his glory. That they would give with all glee at an opportunity to share what He has blessed them with in His name.
Forgive me Father for yet another missed opportunity.