The other night I was sitting on my bed texting my mom. Something wonderful had happened to me, and I was so excited. I almost couldn't believe it. I felt like everyone who has ever said that their cup overflows. You know when you get a gift and you almost don't know what to do with it because it's so above and beyond what you ever dreamed or allowed yourself to hope? That's how I felt. I know life isn't made solely of these moments, but my soul was full to bursting at the seams. I couldn't believe that God had blessed me so. I couldn't fathom in my heart why He would be so good to me. And I told Mama so. I said, "Mama, I almost feel that I'm too lucky. I'm too blessed."
Her response surprised me. "Sara -- do not go there. You have waited YEARS for this!! You have had your share of hard knocks."
I don't like saying that I've worked hard for things. I mean, sure. I have. I work my tail off. But I don't like to credit that as THE reason I receive any kind of good thing. I have good things because I'm given them by the God Who made me. So when my mom reminded me that I had worked hard for this, my heart swiftly batted away the declaration.
It made the next thing that she said sweetly, quietly earth-shattering. "God revels in giving us His goodness. Drink it up! Just be thankful and don't question."
I fear becoming arrogant. Is that a weird thing? I don't want to think overmuch of myself. I suffer from secret prides, but I steer a wide path around the more blatant kind. And to simply be thankful, without protesting my own unworthiness, seems arrogant to me. It feels pretentious. It feels too big. It feels like I'm declaring that I was worthy.
But upon greater thought, I discovered that that's not what it is at all.
I love giving presents. I relish the act of picking out a gift for a friend, wrapping it, and anticipating their receipt of it. It's so much fun, and I find so much joy in the moment that they open the present, I spent so much time choosing for them, and delightedly exclaim, "I LOVE IT!" I share in their happiness. I actually think that I get more joy out of it than they do! My friend Becky is THE WORST about receiving presents. She's all, "You didn't have to get me anything." Go away. Of course I didn't! I wanted to! You're my darling friend and I want to give you a present on your birthday, so open it and love your stuffed llama, dang it.
It hit me in that moment that God is the exact same way. He has given me so many gifts: a place to live (with a happy little room of my own that I love). A family that I adore. Sweet friends that flavor my life with joy and laughter. The opportunity to follow the dream He's put in my heart. Beautiful skies (let's talk for a second about my love affair with the sky). Health. More gorgeous opportunities than I could count. And on and on I could go. Of course I didn't deserve any of this. Of course I don't. But that's not the point.
The point isn't my desert of the gift, or lack thereof. The point is that He gave it to me.
He loves to give good gifts to His children. So why not?
My job, then, is not to remind Him that I don't deserve it. He knows that already. He chose to give me the gift in spite of my undeserving grime. He wants me to receive it with joy. He wants me to open my arms wide and turn my face to Heaven and cry thank You with all my might. He doesn't want to hear about how I don't deserve the gift. He wants to hear about how much I enjoy it.
In Simply Tuesday (Someday I'll stop talking about it. Today is not that day), Emily P. Freeman talks about how we are called to be like little children. Well, little children accept their gifts with gratitude. They don't remind their parents that they don't deserve them. Even writing about it feels silly. Of course they don't do that! The parents put the gift in their hands and they scream with delight. They dance for joy. To this day, when I receive a gift from my parents, I hug their necks and jump for joy like I'm five and thank them a thousand times. I also feel so undeserving of the gift -- but that's the attitude I'm called to leave behind. Instead, I am to revel in the gift and take care of it and treasure it and allow it to endear to me the One Who made me and knows the desires of my heart more deeply than I know them myself.
So may I dance around in circles and squeal like a little child (sidebar: I did that when Mom and Dad sent me flowers on my twenty-first birthday). May I leave behind my shame and instead turn my face to the sky and bask in the steadfast love of my Creator-Father-Lover-Warrior-King. There's more beauty and joy in the world than I know how to hold in my little heart -- and isn't that the point? We can't hold it, so instead we turn it back to Him and lavish it upon Him, to Whom it really belongs. And He turns it back upon us and gives us more than our hearts can hold again, so we give it back -- and in endless, endless cycles of lovers adoring one another.
And because everything with me is adventure-themed -- gifts that humble us are part of the adventure, too. Adventures aren't all dark. That's why I write about them: they're gorgeous. And part of the gorgeousness comes from the gifts we are given along the way.
So let's receive them with open arms and hearts overflowing and heads tilted up to the sunrise and the stars to remind us of where we came from and whence came the gifts. Let us leave our shame behind us and run to meet the One Who made us and loves us whether we deserve it or not.
Yes, indeed -- let's.