Imagine with me, if you will—a day for giving. The stars are bright, the clouds are low and there’s a slight shiver in the air; more excitement than temperature, reminiscent of a cool Christmas morning. Kids crowd around dad’s feet as he shifts around a bag filled with presents.
One by one, he hands out gifts he’s particularly chosen with each child in mind. Your eyes follow as his hand reaches in, shuffling through the bag slowly. One by one, he reveals gift after gift until… it’s your turn.
Your hand quickly darts out and snatches the offering from his hand, even as his arm is extending. It’s small. And wooden. And plain.
You look around at all the sparkly, shiny things your father has given your brothers and sisters, comparing. You can’t help but to compare.
They look at you. All of them. Faces alight, they ask to see what you’ve received, and your heart drops down to your feet because you’re embarrassed to show what’s in your hand. Shoving your gift hastily in your pants pocket, you hold out empty hands and shrug. ‘I guess he forgot about me.’ The words fly out of your mouth before you can judge them to be true.
Have you ever felt forgotten by God? For years, I believed that this was my story. Passed over and overlooked for the more talented and the more deserving. Not particularly gifted by God to be anything more than passable and pleasant. What exactly does one do when they feel God has given them a bad gift? Or worse, no gifts at all?
Please don’t think I’m fishing for sympathy when I say that I know I have never been the best at anything. Never the prettiest, or quickest. Far from the cleverest, richest, or best-dressed.
As a young girl, bitterness blossomed in me. Deep disappointment with who I was stemmed from distrust in God’s goodness and good intention toward me. I was dissatisfied with my lot in life. How could God short me so? How could He have given so much to so many, and leave me with so very little to offer?
Vanity, pride, and a deep love for pretty things bred a severe self-loathing at my mediocrity. Anyone smarter, lovelier and more talented was automatically categorized as “enemy”—specially favored and preferred by God. A competitive mentality slipping on like silk; lightweight and unnoticeable until almost too late.
How quickly we fall into the trap of “er.” Judging who’s pretti-er. Clever-er. Smart-er. Strong-er. Fast-er. Bett-er. Comparison comes as natural as breathing to those who fail to guard their minds and hearts. It’s particularly easy to compare when you find yourself surrounded by others with gifts that dazzle.
God isn’t shy to bless His children. While gifts from God are favor, they are not favoritism. The two shouldn’t be confused. Though often shrouded in mystery, God has a greater, over-arching purpose for how He hands out His gifts. Who are we, small and unknowing, to question His methods?
To this day, if I’m not carefully cultivating my soul, envy will plant, sprout, root, and bloom. Jealousy is a seed whose tree grows quickly, and without much tending. Especially in those seeking for first place in life, and who refuse to bow before the knowledge that it is God who puts the body of believers together. He does so with purpose and intention. That knowledge hurts when you’re not where you’d like to be in the line up. I know that from experience.
Though it may sting, there is also solace in God’s intention. Arms and legs, feet and hands; both the appealing and the less-than parts are necessary for proper body function. There is comfort in the knowledge that no matter what you have to offer, it doesn’t come from you anyway. God purposefully placed that gift in your hand.
There is a unity in diversity that is more glorious than unity and uniformity. Some children are the stars and some are the sky, but both are needed make the night beautiful.
This year, at the father’s feet, my hands are out and open… but they aren’t empty.
This year, I offer my gift up for inspection. If not yet proudly, at least without shame. While it may not dazzle, I’ll allow that it isn’t as bad as I’ve always believed. Which is a start, at least.
From the remembered