It’s Christmas. The Season of Giving. But I’m struggling. Struggling because I want.
I’ve spent the last week driving around new subdivisions. Dreaming. Houses with granite countertops and more than one kitchen drawer. Houses with more than 1000 square feet. I want a new house.
I open my closet door each morning and sigh big. I do. I have the same five pants/skirts I wear every. single. week. I dream of coordinating accessories blended perfectly with anything other than my Birks. I want beautiful clothes.
I open my email or I walk into the mall or worse yet, I stroll through Target, and I see an ocean of items I would love to drop into my shopping basket. Books? I could never have enough. Make-up and jewelry and purses, oh my! I want pretty things.
It’s Christmas and I want. I do. The confession scrapes me raw.
Then there are my children. Their lists of requests never end. I even rant a bit about their over-the-moon demands. Deep down I know I’m desperate to raise generous givers. The idea of playing a part in the raising of an entitled generation scares me. My hypocrisy scars me.
What now? I’m conflicted. I struggle in my heart against my wants.
Because I have SO MUCH.
Because I look at a picture on my desk at work—every dang day. Her name is Martha. She’s our Compassion International sponsor child. She’s the one who walks daily miles to gather water for her family. The one who takes care of her siblings when her parents are able to farm. The one who writes us about her desires for a good education.
Because I’ve walked the slums of faraway countries and looked into the eyes of poverty like an ocean. Carried back to the land of plenty the mud on my shoes from the dirt floors of cardboard homes. Seen classrooms with seventy children learning from science textbooks thirty years old.
Because I pass the marginalized and downtrodden every day, even here in our gift of a country. I teach students who have been homeless, victimized, discriminated, and ignored. I can drive less than two miles and see the sea of need in my own hometown.
When I face perspective head on, I collide. The collision reminds me tension is a powerful motive. Yes. I have desires. It’s not wrong to want beautiful things. It’s not wrong to enjoy the gifts I’ve been given. But the scale is only ever balanced when I also give.
When I open my palms wide and refuse to hold tight. When I unchain my resources and live selflessly. I will only raise my part of a generous generation when they see me give–even when it hurts.
Christmas began when God gifted His Son to humanity.
And in light of this first Gift, my heart shifts. A deep joy begins to well within my soul when I focus on what I can give instead of what I want. It is a choice—a sometimes hard choice—to turn my heart toward what I can do for others. But in this moment, in this action, peace settles in my soul.
It’s the paradox of Christmas. Because it doesn’t matter how much we get, we can still feel empty. Only when we give, do we fill with the Love and Light of this season. So while I may still want a new house and beautiful clothes, I want even more to be a heart that gives.