Months ago one of our children sent me a message asking if I would give her a gift list for Christmas. She wanted to know what to get for not only me, but also other members of our family.
My immediate reaction was slight annoyance. First, while I know it is somewhat unreasonable, I really love for people to know me well enough that if they want to give me a gift, that it be one that made them think of me. A gift that is personal means so much to me, and I don’t like making lists of things I want. Mostly because if I know I want it, quite honestly, I’ll usually get it myself. Second, I have all of those people and more to think of gifts for that are from me, and considering how I feel about gift giving, it’s a lot of work. I don’t really want to do that work twice. I already have enough of a list myself.
I didn’t answer the message immediately because something in me was giving me a warning that I was wrong, and so I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. I was contemplating the message while I was working out one morning, and the thought came to me, “I have a big list, too, and you still ask me what you should do for other people.”
I almost fell off of the treadmill.
Oh boy. Okay then. I love how my Father knows me. I love how he knows that all he has to do is give me one little key and it opens the gate to a new perspective. A window appears and I can see a little bit more.
I started to think about the perspective God has of us and our requests. And our choices. We aren’t wrong to ask for his guidance in sharing our gifts with those around us. After all, he knows the full picture, including all of our needs and wants. Who better to direct our efforts to truly be a blessing to each other, and to genuinely show love and meet needs?
I started to think about what I’d been asked. Do I know the needs and wants of the people in my own family well enough to even answer the request I was asked?
And we aren’t wrong in taking some initiative from time to time either. After all, his list is pretty long, and intense, and we are capable of coming up with a few good gifts of our own. We are his children. We do have in us the capacity for knowing and loving our fellow man on a very personal level. It also seems to me that if we are striving to be more like him, to follow his lead and example, then perhaps we shouldn’t need to be directed in every action. What would he give? What would he do?
Had I really set a good example of what it meant to give a good gift?
Then the first part of my complaint, and let’s face it, it was a complaint, hit me. I expect other people to know me well enough to give me a gift that matters to me. That is personal. That is special. Really? Okay. Let’s break this down. First of all, the keyword here is expect. Does he expect us to know what to give him without ever giving any kind of a clue? Ummm, no. He is pretty clear about what he wants from us. In fact, he’s had several prophets and apostles jot it down for him. Or rather, for us.
Have I been clear about what I want?
Of course that doesn’t mean that we have to stop there. Certainly we can get to know him better. Certainly we can refine the gifts we give him as we come to know him better. Certainly he smiles when we do.
I responded to her message with a message of reassurance that she always gives good gifts, and that I felt confident that she would do well. I also reminded her of things that I enjoy and that might inspire her. I didn’t give her a lot to go on for the rest of her list because, to be honest, I realized I didn’t really know. I hadn’t really taken the time to understand the needs and wants of the people on the list as well as I should have. I was concentrating so hard on what I thought I should give them that I was caught up in the “I” way more than the “them.” But I am working on it, and I am grateful for all that he teaches me. I just hope one day I’ll actually learn it.
In the end, our daughter gave beautiful, thoughtful gifts, as she always does. And she’s probably none the wiser for all that this little interaction taught me, but I am aware, and I am grateful.