The Perfect Gift

There are so many things I want to say, so many things that I want to write about at once. My absence has been in part because of holiday festivities, in part because of a brief health challenge, and in part because of a temporary lack of balance. Suffice it to say, I am hoping to remedy this as a new year and new quarter begins.

Despite all I want to talk about, I have to start somewhere focused–I’ll talk more about the incredible past few weeks at another time. Today, I feel compelled to talk about something that we have thought about a lot throughout the Christmas season: gifts. Yet my thoughts for today do not center around anything that can be bought by human hands at a department store.

One of my hopes for creating more balance is getting back to the gym and honoring my body. This is part of my holistic approach to glorifying God, but it really hit home this morning in a new way as I was drying off from my post-workout shower in my gym’s locker room.

As I got dressed, I noticed several other women in the locker room. One of them was a young, fit, beautiful woman. I subtley watched her as she got on the scale. Almost automatically, I thought to myself, “I would love to be her weight!” Yet I was unsurprised to see her face drop at the private number shown to her, saw her check herself from several angles in the mirror, and return to her business of going on to her workout.

It was then that an interesting thought occurred to me: as I watched her get on the scale, I thought that I would have loved to be that fit. Yet there was undoubtedly some woman in the room who would have thought the same if they watched me participating in the same frequent female ritual. And likewise, someone that would have thought similarly of her.

I considered our bodies–our beautiful, capable, brimming-with-possibility bodies. There is so much we can do, so much that is largely unappreciated. I also thought about how this lack of appreciation extends so much further than our bodies, often spreading to our talents, our individual gifts…even our very worth. There is so much that, in our American culture, that we dismiss or even disdain because it simply isn’t enough for us. We want more, we want better, we want it all.

What does this have to do with gifts? Everything, when viewed through the eyes of God. For what greater gift is there than our very selves, wholly unique and perfectly crafted?

I have a humble but personal insight into this. This Christmas, my husband and I tried to make gifts instead of buy them. This gave us the opportunity to really think about the people we were making the gifts for as we created them, to spend time with them in prayer even though we weren’t physically present with them. It let us create something that we knew would be just for them, that fitted them, that they would be able to use and enjoy and feel connected to us whenever they did so.

Yet what if our parents and siblings had opened the gift, looked at it carefully, and said, “Why didn’t you make it nicer/better/more useful?” Or worse, what if they had said, “I really don’t want this one–I want what you gave to them!” We would have been heartbroken. Why? Because we had made that gift with all of the things that we thought would be most beautiful and suited to each particular person. The gifts weren’t the same, but they were given with an equal amount of love. How awful it would have felt if those gifts had been rejected!

I wonder if this is how God must feel when we wish we had a different body, talent, or even personality. There is no greater joy for a gift-giver than seeing the gift enjoyed and used by the one to whom it is given. How, then, is the best way to glorify and thank God? By using and enjoying the gifts we are given–our bodies, our minds, our emotions…all of it. To know that each of our attributes were crafted uniquely for us by our Creator, knowing that we were the best possible person to receive them in that combination. And that in the process of our creation, that God was already thinking of how much God loved us and wanted to be present to us…even before we were born.

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