I don’t know what has happened to me, but we’ve become the level of friends where I’m about to share something I’m legitimately embarrassed about as a parent. I can’t help it. My children teach me more about the love of Jesus than anything else in my life.
My sweet little girl turned six this past weekend. The previous weekend, we threw her a pretty big birthday party. She wanted to invite everyone in the world. For her fifth birthday, it was a COVID summer, so I felt like she got pretty gypped. So we went for it this year. Fifty-plus people came to celebrate the birthday girl and it really was a ball. She was a lovely host and the kids had a blast. Not to mention alllll of the toys and presents. It was a kid’s dream.
Her actual birthday was a week later, and we still planned a special day for her. We went out to breakfast, spent time with friends, went to Chuck E Cheese, made pizza and had ice cream. Not too shabby, if you ask me. We decided not to go crazy with gifts because she got so many for her party. I got a few more practical things, but still things I thought she’d like. After she finished opening them, she turns to me and says, “Why didn’t you get me more toys?“
Ummm… excuse me?
I seriously don’t know if I’ve ever felt like more of a failure as a parent than this moment. I honestly felt kind of shocked. I answered her very calmly and talked with her about gratitude, and then I walked away. I thought I would feel angry but the truth was, I felt sad! It surprised me. I texted my best friend in panic mode and asked her, “Are my children spoiled?! What is happening!?” Several people have assured me since then she is just six, and this is how kids think. To be honest, I’m still not totally convinced and we will continue to talk about gratitude even more moving forward.
As I began to process this and really bring it to God to help me respond well and teach her, He answered me in His own gentle way and essentially said to me:
You do the same thing.
How often has God gifted us with more than we deserve and we respond with complaints? The answer is every single day. He has already gifted us with more than we deserve. Our baseline for every single morning is salvation, grace, mercy, forgiveness, peace… the list is endless. These are things that God has already promised us, already purchased for us.
Our hearts and our hands are full of His goodness. And far too often, we come to Him, complaining that we don’t have enough.
But God, why didn’t you give me that relationship?
God, what about that job?
God, I don’t think this house is big enough.
This car works and everything, but I’d really love a new one…
He is so patient with us.
My initial reaction to Olivia’s response was, “Well, I guess we’ll just return these things we got you, then.”
God doesn’t do this. He’s too patient, too good. He doesn’t take things away to teach us a lesson. (For clarity, we didn’t take her presents away, either. We’re not totally evil.)
It’s been breaking my heart a little bit to picture God ever feeling the way that I felt. These were the thoughts running through my mind:
“I love you so, so much. I gifted you with things that I knew would be what you would enjoy, things you need over things you want. You already have so much. I can’t believe you would doubt that we don’t want to bless you with absolutely everything. Also – do you even recognize how much we did to celebrate you this past week?“
Now, those are not God’s exact thoughts. And the Bible tells me that I can’t even begin to know the thoughts of God. But I can imagine Him, as a Dad, when I ignore His goodness and faithfulness to me and complain about what I don’t have.
I talked with a dear friend this week about how overwhelmed I was with all that was coming up for me. She reminded me of something that we all know but too often forget:
When you look back at where God has brought you, what He has given you, who He has been to you – gratitude can’t help but fill that space. There is a reason that gratitude has taken over the world; not just Christians. There is psychological proof that it can help rewire your brain.
The truth is, even if we didn’t have any personal stories of something God did in our lives, He has still given us more than enough. Our salvation was the most costly gift of all eternity. Our eternal freedom, joy, and salvation was wrapped up in one moment; one God-decision. We don’t deserve, let alone need, anything more than that.
But our God is gracious and good and kind and that is only the beginning.
What have you found yourself complaining about?
Where have you felt discontent?
This truth does not discount the heartbreaks in life. But if we’re not careful, our focus and our gaze can get skewed on what we don’t have, rather than what we do.
When I truly look back and see God’s perspective over my life, He reminds me I should absolutely not be where I am. By statistics and culture’s standards, I should have married an abusive man just like my father. I should be bound by rejection and insecurity.
The literal only reason why not is God’s grace. I am free from bitterness and unforgiveness. I am free from insecurity and shame.
Look back. I don’t know what your life looks like, but I know you have so much to be thankful for. How do I know?
The same grace that has been for me is for you. Today. Right now. And again tomorrow. The day after that.
You do not have to live trapped in discontentment; trapped in the story of your past. It begins today with wanting to move forward. Wanting to trust that there is a God who not only can rescue you; but wants to. And catch this, He already has.
You are God’s kid. You are not living in scarcity. I know your circumstances may have made you feel abandoned and poor in more than one sense of the word. Look around you at what you have, and look back on where you’ve been.
Gratitude doesn’t usually find us. We have to pull it up and out and place it in front of us over and over.
What are you thankful for?
“If you, imperfect as you are, know how to lovingly take care of your children and give them what’s best, how much more ready is your Heavenly Father to give wonderful gifts who ask Him?”Matthew 7:11 TPT