Amidst all the hurry and scurry and buying and wrapping and baking and planning and parties and noise that is Christmas, there are some things running around in my brain. Maybe it’s because I’m not doing much of these things this year, rather watching it all happen around me.
As I have already shared in a blog about Christmas, we pare it wayyyy down around here. In fact, the only Christmas presents given this year are one per family member given via Secret Santa. With a small dollar limit, we all have had to get creative and thoughtful to buy for one person in this house. I can hardly wait to see who has who and what everyone came up with.
As a family, we were talking about the perception children have of their family’s financial status. When our kids were little, money was often tight, but we did our very best to never let them know that. In fact, recently one of ours said they thought we were rich because of how many toys were in the toy room!
The other day, Justin said that once, as a little boy, he had eaten stuffed crust pizza and heard it was more expensive than regular pizza so in order to never ask too much–though it was his favorite–he never asked for it again. We never knew this, and how much he loved it, so we never bought stuffed crust until recently, and now he eats it like he may never have it again. ;o)
I remember feeling guilty as a child because I needed a winter coat. I had heard my mom approach my dad with this need, and I can vividly picture the whole scene as my dad struggled with how to tell my mom he didn’t really have the money for that. As a result, I tried very hard not to need too much.
We also talked the other day as a family about kids we have observed who get anything and everything they want.
Spoiled: to do harm to the character, nature, or attitude of by oversolicitude, overindulgence, or excessive praise.
Rotten: made weak or unsound by rot
Eventually, given all we want, we become rotten, and it has the potential to ruin us.
Have you watched the newest version of Willy Wonka lately? Next time you do, observe the different faces of the spoiled rotten. There is the over-indulged child whose weight reflects his need to stuff his face with all the junk he can fit in, and his mommy loves to watch him eat it all. There is the picture-perfect wealthy girl who demands from her Daddy, “I want it now!”, and he gives it to her. It goes on and on…
“A happy childhood has spoiled many a promising life.”–Robertson Davies
I’ve been guilty of buying my kids things to try to show them love. Haven’t we all at some point? But, isnt the real trick to balance that desire for them to HAVE with teaching them to appreciate what they’ve been given?
From an early age, we have taught our three to work for what they have. They all found ways to earn money and they save their money and buy their own cars and pay for their own gas and cell phones.
Since this is not exactly typical, there have been times where we felt like really mean parents as our kids have had older cars than their friends and tracfones instead of iPhones. It’s really not easy telling your kids, “no,” is it? But, now, I have to say, the pay-off is bigger than I can imagine as I have hard-working, responsible kids who appreciate the things they have earned and know how to save money.
At times, I’m sure our kids felt like we were unfair, but now, they thank us for teaching them that money doesn’t, in fact, grow on trees. I am quite sure that there was never a moment where our kids felt less loved than the other kids because we didn’t hand them everything. They have always known that we just don’t show love that way.
Do we, as parents, equate how much we give our children with how much we love them? Do they judge our love for them by how much they have?
Is my standard for how loved I am directly related to what I think I deserve from someone? Who, then, determines what the standard is?
If I don’t get the things I want, am I not very loved, after all?
Okay, now flip all this and think about how you and I behave with God.
He gives and gives and gives…ad infinitum…
We take and take and take…ad nauseum…and want more and ask for more and think we deserve more. And the minute things don’t go the way we think they should, we figure we must not be loved that much after all. Because what kind of God would say “no” to those He says He loves? What kind of Father would teach His children through discipline instead of spoiling them rotten with all the things they are sure are the best for them?
How many of us are the girl demanding from her Daddy, “I want it now!”?
How quickly we make God’s love conditional and return ours to Him based on conditions!
I heard a song the other day. It really got me thinking. Some of those things we are sure we want and that we pray for may not be the best that God has for us. After all, His view of our little lives may just include a bit more perspective. As much as I think I want or need something, it may not be the very best for me.
What if I’m so busy living for right now that I miss the whole, big picture?
The truth is, most times I do feel spoiled by my God. He has truly been so good to me. Anything I have that is good has come from His hand. But, now, I rethink the word spoiled. That is not what I want to be. Basking in His grace and washed in His love. Grateful for His favor. Yup, that’s more like it.
And when the metaphorical rain falls, He has a plan for me–much greater than what I can see. His promises are enough for me to hold on to.
Please, take five minutes and listen to this song. As a gift to me, please listen to this song, and tell me what you think.