When I asked them this year what they wanted for Christmas they shrugged. “I don’t know, Mom,” they floundered. “There’s nothing we need.”
And it’s true. There’s very little any of us actually need in terms of material possessions, but there’s so much that each of us need beyond what can be wrapped in plain brown paper and tied up with the simplest of bows.
How do we wrap up love?
How do we give honour?
Can we put a bow on eyes that say, I see you?
A pretty little tag that says, you are enough?
There’s no box big enough in all the world for the forgiveness we all so desperately need, I know that full well.
But the wise men came with the finest of gifts for One who needed nothing.
The woman used her hair and tears to wipe the feet of the One who had no use for gifts.
It’s our very human nature to want to give something tangible to show what’s in our heart, though it never quite encompasses it just right.
So my children need nothing this year. I still love them beyond ways there are to show it, so what do we do? How can I take out my heart and wrap it and place it under the tree to show them just how valued they are, how respected, what a gift they are in my life each day?
To the hurting in our world to which a trinket from the mall can never bring back the spouse they loved or the child they never got to meet – what can we give?
To the lonely, the weak, yes even the bitter and angry – is there a store from which we can purchase a golden ticket that will take it all away?
God gave us the only gift we’ll ever need in his Son. Wrapped up as a gift cradled in His mother’s arms that night and later wrapped again, bloodied and scarred, after He gave the gift of His life and was placed in a tomb.
When we’ve been given the greatest gift what more could we possibly need?
God gave Himself and the only way I see it is that we give the same. We give ourselves.
To the hurting, the weary and broken, we give ourselves.
To the orphan, the abandoned, the alone, we give ourselves.
To those struggling with questions, why disease, why loss, why me? To the ones shaking their fists, we give ourselves.
To our own kids this Christmas let’s give just the same – let’s give them us.
Yes, presents that will make them smile but also being present with them.
Let’s give the gift of pursuit, the way our Heavenly Father pursues us. Let’s pursue their hearts and their minds and foster relationship in new ways. Asking the questions and listening attentively for the answers, relentlessly chasing them and where they’ve gone astray woo’ing them back.
Let’s gift them eyes that say I see you and you are enough. Can we put aside the ways they’ve let us down, the ways they’ve messed it all up, the ways they never seem to learn? It only takes one quick look at my own wretched heart to see I’m just the same. Yes, they’re likely different than you thought they would be and life might look far from the way your mind imagined it – but this is it. These are your gifts, these children. Do they know that you see them with the same eyes the Lord see’s you with? Not disappointment or frustration. Only love. Always love. Patience. Kindness. Overwhelming goodness.
If each of us gave the gift of ourselves, to the Lord, to our families, to the neighbourhood we live in, across the oceans far and wide – consider what that might look like.
It might look like shoeboxes stuffed to the brim, or donations to clean water. It might be adoption or fostering or making meals for those without family. It might look like new shoes on feet that have never worn any or safety and counselling for the children just rescued from violence or slavery or trafficking. It might look like a plate of cookies brought next door or a simple smile in the grocery store line. A kind word on facebook instead of harsh. Making one more invitation instead of exclusion. Making eye contact with that person ringing the bell. Answering the door. Kneeling at bedsides in the quiet of the night. Washing feet. Serving meals. Going. Serving. Staying. Giving.
Would you dream the dream with me this Christmas season? Find one small place to give yourself. Buy all of the gifts and decorate all of the things and laugh and be merry at all of the parties. And give yourself. Somewhere. Anywhere.
The impact of God giving God is so much greater than anything we can fathom. I have a feeling that if we all gave ourselves, the same might just be true.
Looking for a place to give this season? I have some ideas…
Casa De Luz Scholarship Fund – Help single mom’s finish their education and break the generational cycle of poverty ($2000 of $5000 goal currently raised)
Operation Christmas Child – Fill a shoebox with toys, love and the gospel of Jesus
The Salvation Army Centre of Hope – Provide food hampers, emergency shelter, gifts for children in need and Christmas dinner for those who would never otherwise have it.
Mercy Canada – Help young women break free from life-controlling issues, including eating disorders, self harm, drug and alcohol addictions, unplanned pregnancy, depression, sexual abuse, and trafficking.