I know. That sentence makes him sound super-materialistic. But you need to understand that I love to give presents. Around the holidays, I'm that annoying person that is so certain that they got just the right gifts that they prod you on a daily basis with questions like, "Are you sure you don't want to open that early?" So, to clarify, I don't get asked for presents (usually). I'm actually just one of those people that likes to subtly put things in the mail, determined not to ruin the surprise this time, only to become my own worst enemy as the question, "Sooo...did anything good come in the mail lately?"
So, I like to give presents and he likes to get presents. Basically, it works out well.
So, in the middle of the summer, I went out and got a bunch of Skittles and burned...err...legally purchased some CD's that he had been dying for and sent them during a week that I knew had been ultra-dramatic and stressful, like the awesome best friend that I am.
And I have to confess one thing.
The reason that I love giving gifts is getting responses. Shrieks of joy are my favorite. One time, Seth (the best friend in question) picked me up and spun me around, letting me know that apparently I had done a good job. Also, that he was ridiculously strong for how skinny he is. You know you've done well with a gift for my friend, Ashley, when she tears up. Ams will jump up and give you the biggest hug ever. Meghan gets a goofy grin and hysterical laugh whilst clapping her hands like a five year old if you do well for her. It's all about the response for me. If you show me that I did a good job, I'll be on cloud nine.
So, on this particular occasion, the response was in the form of a gleeful phone call with a rushed, “Oh my gosh, hun! I. Love. It.” And there was much rejoicing on either end of the phone and my day was made after receiving my own personal validation.
In Matthew 7 (also in Luke 11), there is a passage Jesus talks about gift-giving.
Here’s what this says to me: I pride myself on being an excellent gift-giver. I love giving my friends things and am confident that when I do, they are things that they will love and use, and hence, will feel my love for them.
The odd catch to this is…I don’t necessarily expect the same out of God.
I intend only the best for those I love and wouldn’t settle for less. But somehow, I get caught up in the idea that God is going to give me less than He feels that I need.
I, as a friend, want to bless the people that I love. But I doubt that God, as my Father and Creator, wants to bless me out of His love.
It short-sells God, if you think about it.
He knows my heart and my path, past, present, and future. Therefore, if He gives me a gift, it’s going to be something good for me all the way through. And if I ask Him for something out of sincerity, while His answer might not necessarily be what I want or feel that I need at that moment, but he’s not going to give me something rotten, just to hurt me and laugh in my face. He’s a loving God, who shows love for me far beyond love that I could ever show for any of my friends that I hold dear. If I want to shower them with good gifts to show my love for them, how much more is He waiting to shower gifts upon me?
The other thing I’ve noticed about myself is this: when it comes to God’s goodness, so frequently, I will look past and only see the things that I don’t feel like He’s fixing fast enough. I don’t stop and reflect on the things that He actually has granted me.
If I were to give a friend a gift, and they didn’t thank me, but instead looked at me and told me what exactly was wrong with said gift and how I needed to do more for them, I probably wouldn’t take that well.
In fact, I would probably promptly punch them in the face and tell them exactly what they could do with my imperfect gift in some colorful terms.
I would never accept that behavior from a friend, but I expect it from God. I have a love and desire from the validation that comes from knowing that my friend is pleased with what I have given them. And while God doesn’t necessarily need validation, He’s just as eager to receive praise and thanks when He gives His good gifts to His children.