Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Gift

I had a profound experience today... a moment I wasn't expecting, one that has caused me to feel a deep, sweet contentment...

Today at church, Cesar was sharing about the gifts of God (the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of health, financial, and relational blessing, etc.), and he related a story from one Christmas at his house. They had started the season assuming there weren't going to be many presents under the tree, so they didn't put gift tags on them. By Christmas day, there were many presents, and they had to go through the somewhat awkward process of opening random gifts and trying to remember who bought it and for whom. He remarked that part of the joy on Christmas morning isn't just for those who receive, but for those who give as well. We who take time to select thoughtful meaningful gifts bubble with anticipation and expand with joy when our loved ones open their presents.

Then Cesar wondered aloud if we sometimes treat the gifts we receive in our life as if they have lost the gift tag. We attribute the gift, whatever it might be, to some source other than its true Source. All the while God is waiting with anticipation for us to recognize it's really from Him. "We are glad for our gifts," Cesar concluded, "and all the while we say, 'I wish my Dad would have gotten me something.'"

For some reason, that image stopped me. For some reason, I have never quite thought of it exactly that way. For some reason, I think my heart finally reached out and took hold of the reality of the gift of my current season of life.

So often in the past 13 years, I have grappled with the whole "gift of singleness" idea. Usually, my responses to this gift landed in one of two camps: accepting it but only as a coping mechanism for the pain caused by the deferred desire of being truly married, or just diving into being royally honked at whatever well-meaning but emotionally ignorant person who was using it to console me in my singleness. (Seriously, I had a 19-year-old tell me that I just had to stop looking and then the person would show up. She's lucky she left that conversation with all her appendages still attached.)

Today, though, Cesar's words plunged me into cataloging the various aspects of my life, and I saw more fully how beautifully tailored those things are to my heart.

  • I love learning and getting better at what I do. As a single person, I've had the time and money to get my MA and start my National Board Certification.
  • I love my family. As a single person, I've had the time to build foundational relationships with my little people that will be a source of joy and strength in the years to come.
  • I love being active. As a single person, I can just GO to the gym when it fits! Fabulous!
  • I love high schoolers. As a single person, I have the time and space to teach well and lead Young Life.
  • I love blessing others financially. As a single person, I get to set the budget. I'm just starting to see how challenging it is for two adults to have a healthy financial plan together.
Don't get me wrong; I know these things can be done within the context of marriage, but not in the way I get to do them now. I still want to get married, and I'll be a kick-ass wife (once I learn to cook), full of respect and encouragement and playfulness and Marahness. But until then.... wow!!! Thank you, God, for this gift!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Vida Joven

I'm sitting in the hobbit house, and it kinda smells.... like Spam.... and it's my own fault....

Let me explain.

Wednesday night is Young Life night. Tonight's talk -- The Work of Christ. So what did we do to lead up to it? First, we played On The Mark. Everybody has a partner and the standing partner takes a straw, sucks up an M&M, and then tries to drop it in a cup.... that is being held by his partner.... who is laying on the ground... and has the cup in his mouth. My partner? Rick.... aka Coach Clark.... best known around school as the head football coach and our newest potential Young Life leader. The results are in, and I stink at that game.

And then we played Eat That Food -- which is like Name That Tune but with hidden food items. Some highlights were Jose and The JalepeƱo (2 bites... he didn't make it), Jackie and The Jelly Donut (2 bites... and she made it), and Andy and The Tomato -- one bite. One glorious, squishy, juicy bite from the kid that HATES tomatoes but did it so his team would score a point. So funny. (The house smells like Spam because of Justin and The Spam -- 3 bites... he didn't get 1/6 of the way done before he caved.... insert evil laugh here...)

And then, I got to talk about Jesus, and I mean really talk about Jesus. Not in the vague way that I sometimes do in class when the topics of purity or faith come up, but in the He-is-God's-Son-and-He-died-so-we-don't-have-to way. Just like On the Mark, we all try to live a good life the best way we know how, but more often than not, we miss the mark. And sometimes we make a choice (I can eat that food in e bites) that leads to us having to deal with more than we can handle (I have to eat WHAT?). Are the metaphors perfect? Not even close. But the Truth was here, and the seed of His Truth was scattered.

Man, what a privilege. What a night. I don't know how the talk landed with any of them, but I do know my God. He is standing at the door knocking. I'm contentedly blissful that He lets me be involved in letting these beautiful, powerful, glorious young people know Who it is that is asking to be introduced to them.

Random left-over spam smells.... a small price to pay.