Ever read The Five Love Languages?
Years ago, when Matt and I were engaged, I read this book. And, it made total sense. All people show and receive love in different ways. Some people love it when their main squeeze holds their hand while watching TV in the evening (physical touch). Some feel love more when the dishwasher magically gets unloaded (acts of service). Some know they are loved when a favorite candy bar makes it home from the grocery store (gifts). Telling someone you appreciate them is great for some (words of affirmation), or planning the perfect date night for others is ideal (quality time).
I quickly realized that the way I show love and receive love the best is through gifts. I LOVE choosing gifts for people! Although I admire those who think ahead and are always prepared, the concept of a “gift closet” where you just go pick something out when you have an event to attend is incomprehensible to me! Even for kiddie parties I enjoy finding something that I know will be enjoyed by the recipient. Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Random-Just-Because-I-Felt-Like-It Days. Gifts are good. They are fun.
I also love receiving gifts. Small, large, or anywhere in-between. It can literally be a stick of gum if it’s my favorite flavor, and the giving of it makes me know you love me. I have a love/hate relationship with surprises. I love the moment of finding out, but I hate the anticipation of knowing there is a GIFT waiting for me! Adoption? Oh yes! The anticipation of it all was dreadfully hard to deal with, and then our gift walked into an office room one day and we became a family of six…
I also struggle with having this love language, because (being completely honest here!) there have been times when I wonder, “what was he/she thinking?!?” “Good” gifts are appreciated not because of the gift itself, but because I know the person knows me well enough to choose something perfect for me. “Bad” gifts? Well… It may be fair to say I overreact to those sometimes. 😉 Oh… you want an example?? Ok. Once my sweet Hubs decided to bring home a favorite candy. Only, he didn’t. At least, not a favorite! In fact, it was one I really don’t like at all! He had gotten two mixed up and bought the one I don’t like. Sprees, y’all. They are GROSS!!! I felt certain he had no idea what I liked and disliked, and actually cried about this good gift.
It’s true, though. Totally true story.
We laugh about it now, and all of the other times he has gifted in a way that puzzles me, but y’all. His heart. His heart is so eager to give good gifts! He loves me, and the act of the giving in itself IS the gift. It’s me who doesn’t accept all gifts as GOOD.
Life is like that, you know.
Our heavenly Father, the one who LOVES us more than anything, gives completely and utterly good gifts, all the time! There are ZERO bad gifts; He doesn’t even have the ability to give bad gifts. And yet, how choosy I am in deciding which of His gifts are good, and which gifts I deem inadequate. How quickly I judge His heart for me, “does He know me at all??”. How harsh I am in letting Him know that something didn’t quite measure up to my expectations. How daring I am to boldly stare at Him and demand something different, something “better”.
I have always considered myself to be a fairly introspective person. I know myself well, and I feel like I can express myself well (most of the time!). But seriously, our new daughter has taught me more about myself in just a short two-week time period than I have learned in any of my previous eight years of parenting! I am seeing how desperate we are to give good things to her, and how she is totally unable to accept them at times because she doesn’t see it for what it is… a GOOD gift. I am seeing how desperate she is for the good gifts, even if she doesn’t even know it. I am seeing how she and I are a reflection of me and the Lord… how desperate He is to give well, and how I just cannot see it sometimes, and yet I’m desperate to see it all at the same time! Such a battle! When she stares at me with unblinking eyes, I see myself daring to challenge the goodness of the gift the Lord has given us.
Yesterday was a difficult day. I did question the goodness of this gift. I wondered if we would make it through the day (we did, albeit with tear-stained faces). I begged the Lord to show me His goodness, and then I opened my eyes and saw her. Today I woke up wanting to stay asleep. Could I do this again? Could I make it through another rough day like yesterday? Today’s gift has been joy. It has been knowing her boundaries for affection a little more, it has been choosing to laugh, it has been refusing to give up adding things to the list of good I see, and not dwelling on the list of hard things I see.
A GOOD gift.
Because that’s all the Lord can give!
There will be hard days. Heck, this afternoon may end up being difficult for all I know! Our princess is a warrior. She hasn’t come through the battle of orphan-hood unscathed. She has scars. She has wounds. She has been peppered with the shrapnel of abandonment, and hunger, and lack of attention, and lack of family. Some of the shrapnel we can pick out now. We can stay with her as she falls asleep, we can feed her, we can play, we can moisturize the scars and prevent cracking of old wounds. But some of the shrapnel is buried deep. It would cause more harm than good to dig it out now. It’s the kind that needs to rise to the surface of her warrior body in its own good time, and it will! We will see things maybe even years from now that will be leftovers from the orphan war, and we can work on those things then. And those moments will be good gifts, too. They will be moments the Lord has prepared our hearts to handle. They will be moments in which her heart is ready to heal a little more.
What beauty in the gifts, because even though some of them are hard, they are all good.
Oh, and PS – she refused to take a nap… so let the afternoon of barely holding it together commence! Thankful for the gift of coffee!