Ungrateful Receivers, Conditional Givers

Call me “cynical,” or call me “realistic,” or call me a “cynical, realistic Grinch,” but I am fully prepared that Christmas morning this year might not look like a Hallmark movie or feel like heaven.

Why?

Well, because last year it didn’t and when it didn’t, the non-cynical, optimistic WHO (ya know, the ones from WHO-VILLE) was HIGHLY disappointed.

Friends, I had high hopes for Christmas last year; I really did.

And to prove my “I-really-am-a-hopeful-optimist” point, I am going to insert one of my hopeful expectations that I had prior to Christmas morn of 2014.

{insert hope}

Our little family would gather ’round our tiny tree, exchanging gifts and hugs with thankful hearts and happy smiles, while experiencing sweet, Christmas moments that would be the building blocks of forever memories. 

“I had big hopes…BIG HOPES,” I say!!!

But that’s not at all  what our morning looked like…not even a little.

{insert one memory of dashed hope}

My eldest was throwing a tantrum ’round our tiny tree, dramatically sobbing because he had to wait his turn while others opened their gifts too, and then hysterically threw himself on the floor while exclaiming all the while that his gifts were “not many.” 

It was hardly Hallmark and not at all heavenly.

With tears streaming down my disappointed and angry eyes, I remember asking my husband, “Why can’t he just be thankful!?!? Why does he have to ruin it!?!?”

I’m not sure if he had an answer and if he did, I can’t remember it, or maybe we got interrupted with another opportunity to dole out holly-jolly not-so-merry discipline. But whatever the case was, I was left with some disappointing memories and a resentment-filled question.

“Why did I even attempt to give that ungrateful kid any gifts at all!?!?” 

But as I look back on that day and think about the answer to that question from last year, here is what I am reminding myself in 2015 (no matter what happens round that tree).

Like my son last Christmas, I (too) can be an ungrateful kid. 

Let me explain by using some of my son’s complaints from last year.

1. “That’s not many!” 

I may not say it in that exact way or with those same words but don’t my actions convey the very same message when I overlook all of the gifts God has generously given, focusing on the one, or two, or three gifts that I still want that God hasn’t given?

“Sure, I’ve got a loving husband, a warm home, sweet kids, good health, a nice job, supportive friends, the gift of salvation, etc…but what about ____, or ____, or ____?

I, too, can be quick to focus on what I don’t have, rather than being grateful for what I do have. 

2. “She got more than I did!” 

{sigh} I’ve done this, too. Looking over my shoulder to the left and the right, I look at the blessings and gifts of others, and I quickly become dissatisfied with the gift in my lap life.

“Why can’t I be more like her?” “Why can’t my children be more like theirs?” “Why can’t my husband do more of that?” On and on it goes…

I, too, can be quick to compare my gifts with the gifts of others, neglecting to be thankful for the ones I have.  

3. “I don’t want to wait my turn!” 

Guilty, guilty, guilty…yep, that’s me! Sometimes I get greedy with my gifts and even impatient, expecting that I’m entitled to the gifts I have and not enjoying the gifts in front of me. I get caught up in the “receiving” end, believing that the gifts are ALL ABOUT ME and MY pleasure.

“Why don’t I see the progress now?” “Why is it taking so long to grow in that area of my life?” “Why can’t ____ just be better, act better, do better?” “Why can’t ____ just hurry up and happen?” All questions I have asked with a sense of impatient frustration.

I, too, can be ungrateful in the waiting of “good gifts,” believing that the gifts need to come at the time I want them to come. 

4. “That gift is not fun.” 

Again, I might not use those terms, but I sometimes live in such a way that communicates disappointment and disapproval in the gifts my Heavenly Father has given me.

“I wish my job wasn’t so _____.” “I wish my house looked more _____.”
“I wish my friends would be more _____.”

I, too, can be focused on what my gifts aren’t, rather than appreciating what my gifts are.

I’m sure I could come up with more examples of how my son and I share the common thread of an ungrateful, whiny spirit, but I think I’ve proven my point guilt.

I, too, am not always filled with an attitude of gratitude.

But as I look at my own heart and reflect on the attitude of God when it comes to giving His children gifts (children who are sometimes very ungrateful and super whiny), I am reminded that God doesn’t ask the same resentment-filled question that I asked last Christmas.

“Why did I send Myself to those ungrateful, earthly children? Why do I continue to give those whiny, finite kids any gifts at all!?!?” 

See…

He doesn’t give expecting something in return.

He doesn’t give based on our good or bad responses.

He doesn’t give with an attitude that is expecting gratitude.

No.

He is a Father who gives because of WHO He is.

He is a Father who gives from a place of grace.

He is a Father who gives with a recognition that though we don’t deserve the gifts He gives, He gives because HE. IS. LOVE. 

He, who was also the sinless Savior who died on the cross for all of the ungrateful children that would ever be, is the Father of Christmas–epitomizing gracious, generous, and unconditional giving. 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

 

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2 thoughts on “Ungrateful Receivers, Conditional Givers

  1. So good! Thank you for this reminder as I have already been preparing for ungrateful teens (yes, sadly, it continues!). Better be thinking about my year-long plank rather than the Christmas morning speck.

  2. Thanks Jessica…Wow! did that speak to me…..my kids are not the issue….it is “other” ungrateful receivers. I have always had unrealistic expectations but am improving although I have not “arrived”. I have relinquished my Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving dinner “fantasy”
    though….Will carving a beautiful turkey at the table while everyone sits patiently in awe! He does carve but it is all done in the kitchen and is usually cool when it reaches the table! Have a blessed Christmas devoid of unrealistic expectations!

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