I’m a hands-on type of girl. So sometimes I get real creative and actually MAKE presents for birthdays, weddings, or even Christmas. I know, I know, everyone makes presents for Christmas, that’s not that big of a deal.
See, for me, when I make you something, it means I’ve spent hours scheming the exact perfect thing for you, and then I’ve spent hours actually making it for you. It’s a reflection of my love for you, of our relationship. Literally by the time you unwrap it, whatever the present is, it has become a tangible symbol of the prayers I have prayed for you, the dreams I’ve dreamt for you, and the memories we’ve created together. You might not see it, you might just see a cup, or a plaque, or a book, or a blanket, or a dress, but that’s just a cover for what you’re actually unwrapping.
The thing is though, growing up, I didn’t realize how much of myself I’d pour into hand-made gifts. I also didn’t completely realize (mostly because I hadn’t thought about it) that the cross-stitched, personalized plastic mug that I sewed just for you with your favorite flower on it might not be as cool as the gif card to Abercrombie and Fitch that someone else gave you.
The first time I realized this, it broke my heart. I had given one of my closest friends the mug described above, and she hardly looked at it. I don’t remember what everyone else gave her for her birthday, but they were all ultimately cooler gifts than the mug. And then she proceeded to hang out with everyone else at her birthday party and practically ignored me.
And it hurt.
It hurt like someone had taken my heart and slapped it with a thousand rough-wood splinters, all digging deeper and deeper into my tender heart.
In fact, that’s one of the first times I remember confiding to my mother about something I was going through. With relationship stuff, that is.
My momma was wise. She sat on my bed next to me, and put her arm around me, and just hugged me for what felt like hours. She let me talk and cry and sob, and she didn’t try to fix it (she couldn’t), but she did listen. And eventually, when I quieted down, she told me that next time, before I started making a gift for someone, I needed to remember this night. I needed to make the decision whether or not it was worth it to make that present. Would I be okay giving a gift that might not be appreciated as much as I wanted it to be? Would I be okay giving away something that precious if it wouldn’t be loved as well as I thought it deserved to be?
Basically, my choice was to be okay with my hand-made gifts meaning more to me than to the friend receiving it, and to keep making those gifts, or to never give a gift that dear again. If I never gave a gift that precious again, my heart wouldn’t hurt as much.
I chose not to protect my heart that way. I have made many gifts since then that have been carefully crafted for a specific, special someone. And I have learned that when I make such gifts, it’s about the love I put into it, not the love with which it is received. But it’s still important for me to give such gifts. It’s good for my heart. And, I like to think, whether or not my friend knows it, that the gift somehow blesses them. That somehow, all the love and prayers and memories I’ve poured into it surrounds it and is absorbed by my friend. I’m not sure if that’s actually possible, but I like to think so. It doesn’t matter that my friend doesn’t know; she’s still benefitting from it.
The thing is, when I think about that cup I gave all those years ago, I think about thankfulness. What cross-stitched mug has God spent hours making for me, that I have scorned because it wasn’t as cool as an itunes card? What has God made specifically for me; that I receive but don’t appreciate to the fullness of the gift? What do I take for granted, or don’t give a second glance to, that He has planned and schemed and crafted just for me?
I hope nothing. I hope I take none of His gifts (or any of my friends’) for granted. But I’m human, so I’m sure I do. But I pray that God continues to open my eyes to the gifts around me that I am oblivious to. The ones that He poured His heart into. The ones that are meant as reminders of His love and His dreams for me.
Because He loves us better than our parents, our dearest, closest friends, our significant others. And so His gifts are SO much better (and bigger, and more random, and more unexpected, and often crazy) than theirs. Because He, the one who crafted YOU, the One who knows every atom of you, who knows what makes you smile and glow, loves you, and gives you such good, mind-blowing gifts.