The Giving Season is upon us. Most of us start with Thanks-giving (reminding us to be thankful for God’s gifts) which is followed quickly by (my very favorite holiday) Christmas. Funny, now that I am an adult, I don’t really think of Christmas in terms of presents given, more about family and God’s Greatest Gift. But in my family the “Giving Season” begins in earnest in September, with three family birthdays, followed by two in October, one in November, two in December (plus Christmas), one in January, and three in February. There are some birthdays in late Spring and Summer, but the time from September to February really keeps me on my toes. Or not.
In early September, it was more a case of me not being on my toes, again. My high school-aged niece had a birthday. I won’t say which birthday, more on that in a minute.
So I thought of her the week before her birthday and panicked! We had just moved and I was not organized in my life or my house or my mind. Homeschooling and unpacking our life into a new house while learning my way around a new streets and stores and kid’s activities had really sapped my brain! But I resolved to get it together and take care of business. I failed.
On her birthday, I thought of her several times and meant to text, or call her, I really did mean to do it. Several times. But I didn’t.
The week after, it slipped my mind completely.
Two weeks later, tail between legs, I texted her mom, my sister-in-law. Got the gift suggestion and planned to take care of it the same day. And failed. See a pattern here?
Finally, I ordered the long-awaited gift and let my sister-in-law know that it was on the way. And what response did I get after so many failures and missed opportunities to send the gift and the well wishes? Grace. She was just happy to hear about how we were settling in, she was concerned over bumps in the road I had encountered; she laughed when I joked about my shortcomings and she brushed aside my mistakes.
As I reflect on the whole gift-giving fiasco, I see it as such a blessing to me. I am reminded of the time I had sent my nephew the “So Now You’re Four!” birthday card. He was five. Totally a high point in my career as an aunt. He is the brother of the birthday girl I am writing about here. Now you know why I won’t say which b-day it is for her. Heck, sometimes I forget how old I am‘¦but maybe that is intentional? Anyway, we all still laugh over that card. No hard feelings, just grace.
One blessing of being humbled, like this, is that it creates a teachable moment. The trick is not to miss it. It dawned on me after this belated birthday gift-giving faux pas that what I got was the gift of grace. I got to experience something heavenly.
What is grace? Undeserved favor, unmerited mercy. I see that this is how we meet our Lord here on Earth: if we are very blessed, we can experience Him in our family or in our friends, or at a job or in line at the grocery store.
In my case, I saw Him in my family as they accepted my love, flawed though it is, and accepted me, mess that I am…when they chose to see the good in me and in whatever feeble attempt I made at loving them.
People who love you know your heart. My niece and nephew, they don’t count the days past birthdays, but consider the gift to be a blessing; and whenever it arrives, they receive it with gratitude. My sister-in-law doles out understanding and compassion for me in full measure when I lament over my lateness. My brother-in-law is generous with me, even in my mistakes. Miles away, in my mind’s eye, I can see the kind smile, the chuckle, and the shrug in his shoulders.
Sometimes you meet the Lord in the people He brings into your life. Two lessons for me in this: (1) look for Him – He is there (2) be the one who doles out the grace, the one who shrugs and smiles, the one who overlooks the flaw, the one who forgives the hurt‘¦Be as Christ to everyone. Let them know what He is like, let them experience Him – in you. This is the Greatest Gift you can give anyone.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
justAgirl…just like you!