Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mommy Bee on Giving Gifts

The **whole** of this wonderful post on gifts as almsgiving comes from the witty, loving and talented Mommy Bee at Muffins, Buns and Biscuits.
It is so lovely I wanted to share it with all of you:-

There is a quote that I read many years ago. I'm not sure how it goes word-for-word, but it is something like "God knows our needs, but it is usually through another person that he fulfills them."

My children have a preschool teacher that we all just love. She is kind, and warm, and sincerely cares about each child in her care. She is especially sweet and patient with my oldest, who because of some developmental delays, is usually the most difficult child in her class. As Christmas time started to roll around I began to think of what I could give to this special teacher to show her how much all of us appreciate her. Another child brought her a little holiday-scented box of air freshener and it's matching candle, and she mentioned to the girl and her mother how much she loved things to scent her home. So I thought about buying a Yankee candle for her, but it just didn't seem right. I thought about the "default" soap and lotion set from Bath and Body Works, but that didn't seem right either. I thought about buying something for the classroom--maybe art supplies--but I wanted to get something that she alone could enjoy. So for a while I didn't think of anything, and figured I'd come up with something at least, by the last day of school.

The afternoon before the last day of school I was at Wal-Mart purchasing things, and right then I decided I'd get her a gift card. I took it up to the register and told them how much to put on it. I was fairly generous, but I really wanted her to know how much we valued her. We got home and I had the kids decorate a card for her, but then I started to doubt myself.

What if she thought I was trying to show off?

What if it looked like I was trying to make all the other gifts look bad?

What if she was offended because she thought that I thought she was poor?

What if she hated Wal-Mart?

What if she thought I was trying to buy favors for my children, like wanting them to be "fish feeding helper" when it really was someone else's turn?

The "what-if's" were whirling around my head, an it was only because I was out of time that I went ahead with giving her the gift card. We went to preschool, and my oldest excitedly ran to give her the card. She praised their art work and gave them a huge hug, and then (a little teary-eyed) gave me a hug. I chalked up her happiness to the ABSOLUTELY STUNNING art on her card, and because class was about to start I slipped out the door.

Today, when I dropped off the kids she pulled me aside and said she wanted to talk about the gift we gave her. She said that she had been having a rough time lately. her boyfriend had left her, taking with him her car, camera, and other things. Her hours had been cut drastically because the Air Force wasn't seeing a profit from running the preschool, which of course affected her paycheck. She told me that the night before class she had been praying and told God that she loved all her children and the heartfelt gifts they gave, but asked Him to please--please--let someone give her a gift card for Christmas...from Wal-Mart.

She told me that we were a direct, specific answer to her prayers, and that because of our gift she was able to buy groceries for the week.

I was shocked. As far as I know, I have never been the literal answer to someone else's prayers.

At first I felt all warm and fuzzy, but on the way home I started to feel a bit guilty. You see, the "what-if" game is not uncommon for me. How many times had I felt a prompting to do something, or to say something, or to give something but didn't. I have such a fear of being seen as condescending or high-and-mighty that too often, I let it paralyze me and I end up doing nothing at all. The man I saw at Denny's, who was clearly homeless and ordered only water-I felt I should buy him a meal, but I didn't. The girl who seemed overwhelmed with her children, and I thought maybe I should offer to have them over, but didn't. The couple at the fast food place, who spread all their change out on the table, counted it carefully, and determined they had enough for a small drink--nothing more--I wanted to "accidentally" drop a ten dollar bill next to their table as I left...but I didn't. The elderly lady sitting next to me at church; I had the sudden urge to put my arm around her, and I didn't.

Were their prayers unanswered because of me? Because of my fear?



...I think I just found my New Year's resolution.


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Philippa said...

Very good. Thank you for sharing this Elizabeth.

Mimi said...

Oh, I really like that post too! Thank you!

Dixie said...

Absolutely delightful. I can so relate to this and the fears that come with giving. Thanks for sharing it.