Last week, I went to coffee with some friends, and we ended up chatting about Christmas and presents. We were reminiscing about Christmases past and all the things we’ve asked for and the best gifts we’ve received. That fuzzy feeling Hallmark movies mistake for “the real meaning of Christmas” came over me as I recalled the year I really, really, really wanted a kitten.
It was years, really. I’d wanted one since my best friend got one when I was in the second grade. Four years later I got up the courage to ask for one. No, that’s not quite right. I got up the courage to write it down on a slip of paper and pass it on to mom when she asked for our yearly wish lists. And then mom sat me down and explained to me in her kindest tone (the tone she always reserved for winning me over, because she knew I was above all else eager to be helpful, reasonable, and responsible–but I was stubborn, too, and would get resentful if I felt bullied. I have a very wise mother) that we simply couldn’t afford another pet, but maybe when I was a little older we’d look into it again. So I swallowed and said I understood and proceeded to try to get excited about books and clothes and whatever else my wonderful family might see fit to give me.
I did understand. But that doesn’t mean a little, guilty ache of disappointment didn’t settle into my gut. On Christmas morning I resolved to be grateful for everything, and I truly was. My siblings and I squealed and laughed as we ripped open our presents, there were hugs all around, it was a joyous morning. And since I’d been prepared, I wasn’t too disappointed that no kitten sat waiting for me under the tree with a bow around its neck.
When all the presents were opened and we’d started bagging up the shreds of wrapping paper, my dad suddenly asked me if I could run outside and get something he’d left in the car. I don’t remember what the something was, but out I went, still in my robe and slippers, and ran shivering across the front yard to the van. As I reached the sidewalk, someone called my name. I looked, and there came my friend and her parents and her sister, marching down the sidewalk (they lived three doors down) in single file, still in their robes and slippers, and carrying (in order): a beautiful white kitten, a cat kennel, a litter box, and a bag of cat food.
It took me a full minute to figure out that it was all for me.
If you’ve ever been there, you know what it’s like to want something so bad you don’t want to think about it, because you know you won’t get it, or worse, because you know you don’t deserve it and you feel a little silly even for hoping…and then you do get it.
Love is truly an outpouring.
So last week, as I sipped a chai latte and shared that memory with my friends, it came over me in a whole new way that I learned something about the generous, joyful, playful, sweet love of God on that cold December morning back in 1997.
He really does want to give us the first item on our list. And while it’s true that sometimes we don’t get what we think we want, ultimately he tells us to ask…in order to receive. May he bless our asking and purify our desires, in order to grant us the desires of our hearts.
May we all grow in our confidence that he wants to, and he will–in his own time.