So what to do? For instance, as this Christmas rolls around, I find myself reluctant to be giving the gift of independence to my adult daughters. Are they really sure that they wouldn't prefer me to give them advice, for instance, or a lovely evening at home? The gift of independence may be delightful for them, but it leaves me feeling rather hollow. Yet if I love them, I know that I need to give them this gift; it allows them to become the healthy adults that I desire them to be. And I'm wise enough to know that if I don't choose to give the gift, independence will be wrested away from me anyway, resulting in broken edges and scars that bring their own pain.
In the midst of Advent, I find myself pushing the story forward to the Atonement, the real reason that Jesus came to earth. In some mysterious way, the death of a perfect human, who was also God with us (Emmanuel) was the gift we needed if we were to be able to experience a full and joyful life. But even Jesus, who willingly chose to come to earth for this exact purpose, realized that there was a personal cost to giving this gift. I think that's what we see happening in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus struggles through the physical and emotional pain he was going to incur on the cross.
I cannot in any way plumb even the first few feet of what this sacrificial giving cost the the Savior. But when I am open to giving gifts that seem to have no benefit to me, or are painful, or strip me of the comforts that I want, I think I am putting my toes in the ocean of God's willingness to love me at any cost.