Have you ever been in the dilemma where what you want to give and what the receiver needs are at odds? I often go shopping with a friend of mine who loves to buy clothes for her family members. The problem is that her taste and the taste of the giftees don't always match. There may be satisfaction as my friend buys something that she imagines will look wonderful on the recipient, but in reality, the gift will only be exchanged or put in a drawer until it finds its way to the Salvation Army drop off bin.

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.
12/15/2010 01:58:36 am

Sue, this post has much to think about. I particularly like the wording and meaning of the last sentence. I think some of us spend far too much time standing on the dry sand staring at the ocean and thinking it's a mirage, that
God doesn't love us at any cost.


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