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A Month of Gifts

May 18, 2014

Cakes and feasts and celebrations and gifts all roll right into one another as my birthday and anniversary and Mother’s Day coalesce into May.

But, I’m not good at receiving gifts, I’ve learned. Not in the respectable way — you know, the I wish everyone wouldn’t make a big fuss over me kind of way. I’m not good at receiving gifts for exactly the opposite reason. I like gifts; I like gifts being given to me; and I expect gifts that are exactly, precisely what I wanted.

So pity the poor fool who gifts me a token that doesn’t meet my expectations. I’ve been known to pout. To cry. To huff and puff. Such a picture of graciousness, right? I grew up a girl obediently writing out precise gift wish lists for birthdays, for holidays, for milestones. And usually, those much-desired gifts arrived in beautifully crisp, bow-tied packages, simply waiting my approval.

What happens to this list-making girl when she’s gifted with something quite unexpected? A gift that never crossed her mind. A gift that actually didn’t even seem like a gift but much more like a strangle-hold.

I came face-to-face with that girl holding her unexpectedness, and I saw Entitlement leaning close in to my ear. What you have isn’t a gift.

That shocking lie, that brazen label, ran a desert right through my heart. My soul starved of truth, shriveling, dried-out roots. You can’t love what you have because it’s not good (enough).

But now I’m learning, grace turns death into life. Scrapes away lies to see truth. Fills us full when lies have emptied us out.  If I treat God’s gifts like I treat my birthday lists, I’ll never experience the true freedom found in the paradox of  grace.

Being last and least makes you the victor. Gain life by losing yours. While we still opposed him, He sought us. Death births life.  Triumph through surrender. Infinite treasure in these dusty jars of clay. Healing through brokenness. His power perfected in my weakness.  

It’s always been this grace paradox that helps me right the upside down world where little boys are born with genetic disorders. And grief in all her smallness and bigness grows her roots right into each and everyone’s lives.

But grace. Though it might not change the circumstance, it always changes me.


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