Just the other day I was talking with my son and asked him what his favorite Bible story is at the moment. It's been the story of Moses for some time now, largely due to the plagues and that whole parting of the Red Sea thing, so I was quite surprised when he shared with me that his current fave is that of Adam and Eve. We discussed it a bit and have had a few moments whereby we've been able to return to that story for a teaching moment here recently.
Case in point: He has a video that he was watching for a bit (Scooby Doo) and at the time we thought nothing of it. Yet there were a few things that came out of it that he started saying that we weren't so fond of so, good parents we, we took the video away. Now keep in mind that the child has about 900 more to chose from alongside the millions and millions of toys he has to play with as well. The kid was devastated. Crying, whining, pleading, the whole deal. We revisited our good friends Adam and Eve and I asked him, "Tyler, what did God give to Adam and Eve?"
He responded, "A garden."
Me: "And the whole earth pretty much, right?"
Him: (Sniff...) "Yeah..."
Me: "And did God tell them NOT to do anything?"
Him: "They couldn't eat from the one tree, of knowledge of good and evil."
Me: "Right. They had everything in the whole world save one tree yet they just couldn't bear to not try that one. Sounds a little bit like what you're doing right now. You have all these things, all these toys and movies, and you're not happy because you don't have this one thing."
Him: (Another sniff...) "Yeah..."
I don't share that story to shine the spotlight on my stellar parenting skills but rather to tell another story from my perspective. Because what I'm finding this Christmas is that I'm a lot like my son right now. I'm a blessed individual. I'm healthy. My children are healthy. My wife is healthy. And by and large, my relationship with all of them is a positive one while others battle divorce and more. I have a job, more than one in fact, while others stand on street corners simply begging for work. This year we became homeowners and have been blessed to have tons of folks over and are planning for more while others are facing foreclosure or worse, are living on the streets already.
Additionally, I have a refrigerator and a freezer that, while not bursting at the seams, is full of food while others scrape through garbage cans and line up at soup kitchens for one meal a day. I have fresh running water, hot and cold even, while others are forced to drink impure water day in and out, causing irrevokable harm to their systems. Clothes, I've got them, and they're clean to boot while others wear the same day in and day out and others shiver in the cold of winter due to a lack thereof. And oh the comforts I enjoy, whether it's sitting down on our comfortable furniture with a glass of wine listening to some music or watching television or playing a game or even reading a book while others simply huddle for warmth and a moment's peace on the ground or in an alleyway, many not sure if they'll live to see tomorrow.
I share those things because I know that I'm blessed. I am. But as Christmas rolls closer, I'm finding myself a bit blue and it's making me feel so selfish that it hurts. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, with pretty lights and faithful fun songs and, yes, gifts. And for me gifts have alwasy been a form of love, in some respects. As Dr. Gary Chapman would phrase it, one of my "love languages" is the language of gifts. I give and receive love by giving and receiving gifts. That's one of my languages. So with each and every Christmas, I've loved the interaction of thinking and pondering and hunting even to find the perfect gift for my wife, my kids, my parents, and my friends. And I rejoice in similar fashion when I find they've done the same for me. It just warms my heart, for whatever reason.
But this year, largely due to buying a house, not to mention the slowing economy, we're just not at the best place as of yet. No, we haven't bitten off more than we could chew but recovering from a month or two of unemployment and getting adjusted to being paid once a month takes a little time. So Christmas is rapidly approaching and we've really only done a bit of Christmas shopping, at that for the children. And we've enough to do well for them that they'll have a stellar Christmas for sure, for it will be all our delight to awake on Christmas morn and see the stars in their eyes as they joy in their new toys and doodads. As for buying things for one another and even others though, it's gonna be tight.
And I guess that's where I'm struggling right now. I love giving gifts. And, on the flipside, I love getting gifts. And, like a little child, I do love the anticipation of Christmas Eve as we lay in our beds wondering what delights await us on the other side of the night, what fun and exciting finds lie wrapped so delicately in that ornate paper. And this year, I'm afraid it's just probably not gonna be there. Selfish right? On top of that, I feel like this year I've worked harder, and I daresay more, than I ever have, juggling this and that and drawing more money than I have in some time. And what do I have to show for it? I don't know yet. I just don't know.
So pray for me if you think of it. I'm not trying to lay out a sob story here about how poor we are because we're not. Our bills are paid and will continue to be. This is just another tale of one young man having the world and wrestling with his desires to have just that one more thing, a battle that I fear will be lifelong.