December 16, 2015

A Little Trick To Help You When You're Turning Blessings Into Burdens

If you really want to know the truth, I'm an expert at taking the beautiful blessings of life and turning them into cheerless burdens. I can find a way to complain about some of the most mysteriously rich treasures of life, treasures that have so blatantly come from God's hand.

I'm a delight to be around, I'm sure. 

It's true that gifts from God aren't always easy to receive. Well, I take that back. Most are easy to receive but almost all are often difficult to steward. He's all, "Here's a little baby that will need nurture and care for the rest of his life! You will rejoice when he rejoices, but you'll also suffer when he suffers! And sometimes he will break your heart! Enjoy!" 
And that just sort of applies to everything. Gifts from God aren't like finding a toy under the Christmas tree; they require thought and purposefulness and exhausting work and obedience. They require for us to choose to acknowledge them as gifts, or else they quickly become burdens and we quickly become complainers.

We don't like things to be hard, let's just be honest. Sometimes I cross my arms and think/pray, "And how is it again that this (insert hard thing) is a good gift from You?" I like the toy-gifts, not the work-gifts, because I like gifts of the comfortable, me-centered variety.

But I'm starting to notice that God-gifts take a while to unwrap. My kids, with their toy-gifts, take precisely four seconds to unwrap, exclaim over, and move to the next present. The joy is pretty short-lived, and it's a kid-greedy kind of joy, like, "Yay! OK, what's next?" 

I always noticed as a child that my grandparents waited a while to open their gifts, and now my parents do it too. They enjoy watching everyone open their gifts, and then, when it's their turn, they do it slowly, in a savoring kind of way. 

I also notice that my dad tears up a lot more, now that he's getting older and has lived more life. It's like he knows the secret that good gifts from the Father take time to unwrap, that they are to be held and considered. Savored.

I turn my blessings into burdens because I don't savor, I know I do. I'm kid-greedy, already moving on, thinking, "OK, what's next?" But what if I'm missing the "what next"? What if I have the "what next" already in my life? What if I'm complaining about the work of the unwrapping process and it's keeping me from the joy of this exact slice of life that God Himself wants to give me? 

I think my dad tears up more because he's unwrapped more of life. He sees the gifts for what they are, and he probably sees the ones he didn't savor as much as he should've. 

I imagine my Father God is like my grandparents, and now my parents, at Christmas. As all grandparents do, He's gone way overboard in the gift department. He's not over in the corner, looking for His presents, looking to be served. He's looking over to see if I've started to open that present, the one He picked out just for me. And, like any gift-giver, He simply wants me to enjoy it and then run to thank Him. This gift may challenge me a little bit--He knows that--but He's given me this gift after careful deliberation and with so much love. He also knows that part of the joy of receiving the gift  is the thought, purposefulness, exhausting work, and obedience it will require of me.

I do this little trick where I imagine myself in the future without the gifts I have today. I imagine how I would feel if I were unable to write or if my closest friends moved away or if it were us that God asked to move away. I think about not having our church, our friends, our children, our home, our jobs, and our families, and it helps me see quickly and clearly that these aren't burdens. These are blessings.

When I do my little trick, I just sit with them, tearing off a little more wrapping paper, savoring.

They aren't burdens any longer, as if they ever were. They are blessings--my blessings--and I can't help but run to my Father to say thank you.